Project Silica is a Glass Hard Drive that Could Store Music for 10,000 Years

by | Jun 15, 2022 | Science, Stories | 0 comments

Global Music Vault has already made significant headway towards safeguarding the world’s music. In case a bomb-proof shelter in the Arctic North isn’t enough, the team behind the structure are developing a more portable storage method: Project Silica.

Fast Company reports that the “hard drive style” device is a three-square-inch piece of quartz glass on which up to 100GB of data, or roughly 20,000 songs, is etched using a femtosecond laser. Machine learning algorithms can then access the information by analyzing patterns created when light is shone through the translucent material. Importantly, it is estimated that the data can be retrieved from the device up to 10,000 years later — even if it is exposed to extreme heat or electromagnetic pulse.

Microsoft, who partnered with Global Music Vault on Project Silica, estimates that the common hard drive can store data for roughly five years before it begins to degrade. As the software giant shifts more and more of its business to the cloud, it has come to seek out more reliable ways to store information.

“With over 4 million music producers globally, and over 60,000 songs being released just on Spotify every day, today’s digital and physical data storage solutions are quickly becoming outdated, irrelevant and a risk to our future,” said Global Music Vault Managing Director Luke Jenkison. “We not only want to put this high on the global music industry agenda, we want to work with the best companies in the world to find solutions. As we want to offer the global music ecosystem an eternal solution, we believe that Microsoft’s Silica is that exact solution for our storage needs.”

The developers of Project Silica successfully stored and retrieved the 1978 film Superman in 2019. As part of a new promotion for the device, the Global Music Vault will house platters storing recordings from the International Library of African Music, the Polar Music Prize, and the National Library of New Zealand.

More information on Project Silica is available on the Microsoft website.

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