About 50 years ago, can you remember what kind of computers we had? The smallest computers in the world were the size of a house. The smallest computers were very big and they consumed a lot of electricity. Of course they needed a lot of space, because of the heat they produced. A computer in those days produced way more heat, which caused problems now and then.
Newer generation computers were produced with smaller components. Like small microprocessors and smaller electronic components. This other way of producing, allowed computer to shrink in size. And this had a great consequence, as computers could grow in power. The very first microprocessors were actually built on real conventional silicon chips. And how technology changed all over the years, de microprocessors are still made with the same basic technology. That means that they still rely on the same material, silicon based. Silicon is a great material. But yet it is not the best material and certainly not the most dependable.
After years of research the best investigators have discovered a better alternative. The answer is in the believe that the secret of a super powerful computer is in the DNA. Which means that a computer grows as it calculates. This information is based on a big project from the University of Manchester. They discovered that using DNA strands for storing and calculating data, could be the answer for the future. This means that microchips who are using DNA, can solve complex problems much faster than traditional microprocessors.
So what makes DNA a better alternative than silicon microchips?
I was surprised about this new technology. You too? Then of course you want to know what makes DNA microchips so interesting. And why are they much faster than the chip that is currently available? The answer is that DNA computers can work simultaneously on two problems that are totally different. So the process can be described as searching for different information at the same time. But coming from two different ways. So that makes it a lot faster to find difficult information in a maze. Because if you can imagine that your computer is searching for one specific part of information, and when it comes to a point where it can go left or right, a traditional computer has to choose. And when the right information could not be found, it has to go back en take the other way.
Traditional computers work with bits that can have a value of 0 and 1. The DNA computer has four possibilities at the same time. It is called A, C, G and T. So it is very clear that a DNA computer can process much faster, which is very useful for complex calculations. Where a conventional computer needs many years to solve complex math problems. And now I speak about hundreds of years. A DNA based computer can solve the same complex math problem in hours.
So it is very interesting to use a DNA computer for trying to solve a problem that previously seemed insoluble.
Are there more advantages of DNA computers?
Yes, there are more. Let’s talk about storage. DNA computers can store a large capacity of data. Conventional computers with silicon processors have a maximum storage capacity. It depends on the size of the chip. But it will never be more than a few terabytes of data per chip. Of course that is a lot of data storage. But on the other hand we have the DNA chip. And one gram of DNA, could store more than 100 billion terabytes of data. During the years, the DNA microprocessors are much smaller. So you can equip an average desktop with more than one DNA microprocessor. This allows you to achieve a higher storage capacity and a higher speed. In theory you could say that, because the DNA is so small, a desktop could use more processors than all the conventional computers in the world together. So a DNA computer will perform better than the fastest supercomputer in the world, in only a fraction of the energy.
Another benefit of using DNA storage, is the stability and durability. It is proved that DNA can last for thousands of years at a temperature below freezing. The most digital data nowadays, such as SD cards of USB sticks, they will last for approx. 10 years. If they are handled with care. CDs or DVDs have a lifespan that is even shorter. They will last for two to five years with a regular use. So here we speak about complete different story, as we speak about DNA.
The development of DNA computers
When the DNS computer is so fantastic, why are we using still traditional computers? And why are we satisfied with a storage that is limited in capacity? It’s nothing more than the high costs, that is delaying the development. Even the smallest bit of information in DNA still costs a fortune. To have an idea: one megabyte of DNA stored data costs around $12,500. The good news is, that compared to previous years, the price of this technology has gone down. So the expectation is that this technology will be cheaper in the next years.
We can conclude that a DNA computer offers a great potential for the future. But there is still a lot of work to do! And even the existing computers are great to handle, the prospect is that soon we will get more efficient, super-fast DNA computers. Which has a mega storage capacity. You can imagine that this part will be very interesting for companies all over the world. Microsoft has already announced that it will start with the development of a computer based on DNA. So once the first model is fully developed it will be used for hospitals and confidential information from the police departments around the country.
I can’t deny there is also another side to this story. A computer with a DNA sounds a lot like a human being. Is this the start towards a computer that thinks like a human being? Sometime more to investigate by Tweaks2k2.