Scientists use DNA molecules to create super-fast computer, it ‘grows as it computes’

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BE2C2 Report — A melding of biology and computer science has led scientists to use DNA molecules to create a new, super-fast computer that is capable of “growing as it computes.”

DNA might be known as the code that determines the traits of all living things, but in recent years it has rapidly become a tool for use within the artificial, technological world.

Of particular interest has been DNA’s potential to store vast amounts of information that has already led to start-ups being formed to offer data storage that would not only be invisible to the naked eye, but nearly indestructible.

Now, researchers at the Manchester University believe DNA molecules could be harnessed for computing to such an extent that it would surpass the possibilities of even quantum computers. A practical quantum computer is able to surpass current binary computers by a factor of hundreds.

Known as the nondeterministic universal Turing machine (NUTM) – after the legendary mathematician Alan Turing – such a working computer using DNA molecule as “data bank” would be on another plane of speed.

To put further perspective on the potential for such a computer, the team said that a small desktop could potentially utilize more processors than all the electronic computers in the world combined.

Unlike electronic computers, which rely on a fixed number of silicon chips, the new NUTM-like device utilizes DNA, which can replicate. No ordered operations or communication is necessary in the new computer — the DNA is edited or preprogrammed to replicate and carry out an exponential number of computational paths.

“As DNA molecules are very small, a desktop computer could potentially utilize more processors than all the electronic computers in the world combined — and therefore outperform the world’s current fastest supercomputer, while consuming a tiny fraction of its energy,” lead researcher Prof Ross King said.

The research, detailed in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, is the first to prove the feasibility of the NUTM computer. Until now, such a computing entity existed only in theory.

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BE2C2 is a business unit of Irshad Salim Associates and publishes reports, news, infographics, analytics and analyses based on available data and related information from sources readily available on the web and in the public domain.

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