75.6 GB of data in a quartz glass technology two millimeters thick. This is the incredible bet taken by Microsoft and Warner Bros. At its annual Microsoft Ignite event, the American company announced that it had managed to store the original Superman film, released in 1978, in a plate 7.5 cm wide and 2 millimeters thick. The goal of this project named "Silicia", is of "Completely rethink the design of traditional storage systems", writes Microsoft. A reliable, sustainable system, and at a lower cost.

The name of this technology refers to the ultrareilient material in the quartz glass plate: silica, a component found in most minerals. Storage in glass would be a cheaper alternative because it allows "Keep the data for centuries". Up to a thousand years! Unlike data centers, which require constant aeration, storage in this small plate goes without this system greedy in energy consumption, according to Microsoft. The technology has undergone all the tests of torture to make sure of its solidity: bath of boiling water, microwaves, furnaces, wool of steel … There, where, coils and hard disks would not have resisted a second, "Silicia"she has passed all tests successfully.

Big data breakthrough

This new technology exploits recent discoveries in optics, thanks to an ultra-fast laser and the prowess of artificial intelligence. The quartz plate is inserted under a femtosecond laser, able to burn, trillions of voxels (3D pixels, NDLR) to the second, and in several layers unlike CD, DVD and Blu-ray.

While the all-digital era is driving a wave of big data, storage technologies – hard disks, magnetic tapes – are crushed by a huge amount of data. "Hard drives can wear out after three to five years. The tape can only last five to seven years, file formats are becoming obsolete and upgrades are expensive. ", writes Microsoft on the page of his project.

Finding a means of sustainable storage is a crucial issue, especially for production companies like Warner Bros. The film giant has faced the problem for several years and seeks to protect its immense documentary collection. A race against time to save his television library, one of the largest in the world. Historical nuggets like Casablanca, released in 1942, but also old radio broadcasts of the 1940s and hundreds of filming. The preservation and archiving work is therefore an unavoidable challenge for the firm, which is added to the Microsoft research project after hearing about the concept of Silicia.

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