If you’ve read our article on the figures behind the data explosion, you’ll know that we’re currently swamping ourselves with an unprecedented amount of digital data, and the rate at which we’re generating this information is increasing exponentially. So, are we surpassing our own capacity to store and retain this data? Do we run the risk of creating more information than we know what to do with?
The invention of the Integrated circuit is credited to American engineer Jack Kilby, a distinction for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics back in the year 2000. Integrated circuits contain numerous transistors set into a semiconductor, nowadays silicon, and are used to store and process digital information quickly and efficiently. Integrated circuits paved the way for the birth of the digital age and are used in all of the miraculous everyday devices that we now take for granted. It wasn’t always this way however, and it took the financial might of the US Army and Navy to help get Kilby’s project the backing it needed to come to fruition.
The brilliance of the integrated circuit – a term which includes microprocessors, memory chips and ASICs – is that they are small, cheap to produce and perform reliably. A memory chip the size of a little fingernail can currently store 1,000 times more data than a palm-sized floppy disk of ten years previously, but can progress keep marching on at such an unbelievable rate? As strange as it may seem, it looks as though it might.
In February 2012, scientists at the University of New South Wales developed the world’s smallest transistor – both the smallest the world has ever seen, and quite possibly the smallest that the world will ever see. The transistor works on an atomic scale, sending an electric current across a space mere nanometres wide, and the scientists report that the device works in exactly the same way that current transistors do, suggesting that we have come one step closer to achieving quantum computing. As if that wasn’t enough, later in 2012 Harvard researchers revealed that they had developed a technique for storing data on strands of DNA – if you think that a current 3 terabyte disc-drive can hold a lot of data, remember that just one double strand of Human DNA is thought to contain one Exabyte of information, so a single DNA-based microprocessor could theoretically hold all of the data we’ve created throughout recorded history and then some.
While the volume of digital data being generated in the present day can be a little intimidating, the storage methods we have at our disposal, and those we are set to produce over the next few years, suggest that no matter how much data we create or acquire, there will always be ample storage with which to contain and process it. There’s no reason to worry about storing your data, so you may as well get back to generating it! Take a look at some of our flexible data capture methods to help you generate the information you need, or contact us to find out more about the benefits of digital data storage.