"1KB now, 100PB for $150,000 in 2026, 1000PB+ in 2030": Biomemory CEO sheds more light on mind boggling expectations for its DNA Storage platform

Erfane Arwani
(Image credit: Erfane Arwani)

Biomemory has unveiled the first commercially available DNA storage device - an incredibly important step for a very promising medium that could one day change the very way we interact with technology, from the data center to the smartphone.

But we’re still far from a mainstream, mass market adoption; at $1,000 for 1KB storage space, this DNA card is about one trillion times more expensive than your bog standard hard drive but that’s not the point. This is a proof of concept and there’s more, much more to come. As we did last year, we sat down with the CEO of Biomemory, Erfane Arwani, to find out what the French startup has in the pipeline.

1. We spoke almost a year ago: What has changed since then for Biomemory and DNA storage in general?

Since our last conversation, Biomemory has made significant strides in DNA data storage. We've initiated the construction of machines designed for synthetic DNA data storage in data centers, with our first model, capable of autonomous operation, set to debut in 2026. A more advanced version, expected in 2030, will surpass exabyte-scale storage. Recently, we launched a B2C product to demonstrate the capabilities and commercial readiness of our technology. This initial offering is not only a testament to our technological maturity but also serves as a gateway to exploring various use cases. Our laboratory has tripled in size, attracting new talent and forging strategic partnerships within the industry. The DNA Card, our inaugural product, is now finalized and on the market. The field of DNA Data Storage itself is evolving rapidly. Traditional chemical and enzymatic synthesis methods are giving way to block synthesis approaches, like ours at Biomemory. In sequencing, real-time technologies now eliminate the need for hour-long waits to start DNA reading. Complementing biological Nanopore technologies are Solid State Nanopores from the semiconductor sector. We anticipate that, in the future, DNA reading speeds could rival those of flash memories, marking a paradigm shift in data storage. Moreover, the involvement of the biggest tech companies in DNA Data Storage, as evidenced by the membership of the DNA Data Storage Alliance, signifies the sector's growing importance and potential. These industry giants are recognizing and investing in the future of data storage, further validating the direction in which Biomemory is headed.

2. This week, you announced a DNA card that has a capacity of 1KB. Why now and why with this capacity ?

While storing 1 kilobyte of data on DNA may seem modest compared to traditional storage methods, it represents a significant breakthrough in DNA storage technology. The launch of our DNA Card now is a strategic move to advance the industry and transition the technology from research laboratories to practical, real-world applications. Our goal is to catalyze progress in the field, inspiring other companies to follow suit. This collective advancement will not only propel the sector forward but also help in finding an environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional computing that falls short in long-term data management. We've seen considerable interest from individuals eager for this technology to be available for personal use. The DNA Card is an ideal introduction to this technology, offering a way for users to preserve their most precious data for lifetimes and even pass it down through generations. Currently, we guarantee data integrity for 150 years, with plans to extend this to 1,000 and eventually 10,000 years, surpassing the longevity of the oldest human writings. In the coming months, we're also planning to expand our storage capacities to accommodate larger files like photos, documents, and multimedia.

3. What’s the next step for Biomemory and this card?

The immediate focus for Biomemory is to increase the storage capacity of the DNA Card, with the goal of offering a near-eternal preservation solution for individual's important documents, such as photos, videos, and precious records. The DNA Card, while an innovative preservation medium, is just one aspect of our broader vision. Beyond this, we are actively developing data storage arrays for use in data centers. To facilitate this, we have engaged with key players in the data storage industry to initiate collaborative efforts. Part of this strategic expansion includes establishing a presence in Silicon Valley, positioning us closer to the heart of technological innovation and industry leaders. These steps are crucial as we work towards integrating our DNA storage solutions into the mainstream data management ecosystem, offering a sustainable and long-lasting alternative to current technologies.

4. You’ve joined the DNA Data Storage Alliance regroups some very big name in storage (Microsoft, Western Digital, Quantum Seagate). What are your expectations?

The DNA Data Storage Alliance is a remarkable consortium, encompassing companies at the forefront of disruptive technology and individuals of exceptional talent. Biomemory is, indeed, a proud member of this alliance. We actively engage in regular exchanges with these companies, as there's no better way to advance our technology and contribute to the field. Being part of this alliance allows us to stay at the cutting edge of developments and collaborate on innovative solutions. We are excited about the potential of these interactions and are planning to announce our first strategic partnerships with members of the Alliance in 2024. These partnerships will not only enhance our technology but also demonstrate our commitment to playing a pivotal role in the evolution of DNA data storage.

5. You’re planning to release 100PB DNA cards in 2026. That’s just three years from now. What sort of performance and pricing would we be looking at? MBps transfer rates? Ms access time? $1 per TB prices?

In 2026, we're set to revolutionize the data storage landscape with the launch of Biomemory Prime, our first storage array specifically designed for the estimated 10 million data centers worldwide. Biomemory Prime will boast an impressive capacity of up to 100 petabytes. We are targeting writing speeds of 2 to 3 megabytes per second, with an access time of around 60 seconds, facilitated by a separate reading module. The initial pricing is projected to be around $150 per terabyte.

Moreover, we're not stopping there. Our team is already working towards significantly reducing the cost. By 2030, we aim to bring the price down to as low as $1 per terabyte. Considering the longevity and durability of this storage solution – effectively eternal – this pricing strategy is poised to set a new standard in the industry. It's an exciting prospect, offering sustainable, long-term storage at an increasingly accessible price point.

6. $150 per TB seems very high and the speed of 3MB/s seems very, very slow. Can you elaborate further?

Regarding the price, the initial cost of $150 per terabyte is indeed our launch price (Ed: That’s 150,000 for 100PB), which we plan to reduce significantly to around $1 per terabyte. While this may seem high compared to conventional data storage methods, it offers unparalleled value for the virtually eternal preservation of data. Currently, there are no other solutions available that can match this level of longevity at such a price point. As for the speed of 3MB/s, it is indeed modest when directly compared to current data center storage systems. However, our clients find this speed sufficient for their initial use cases, particularly for long-term archival of strategic data. It's important to remember that DNA Data Storage is not just about current performance metrics but also about ensuring data longevity and sustainability. Of course, we are concurrently developing solutions to enhance the write speed, making it increasingly compatible with a broader range of data center applications. Our approach at Biomemory is to balance the needs of data longevity with evolving technological capabilities, ensuring that we continue to meet our clients' diverse and changing requirements.”

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.