Project Silica

Project Silica



The demand for long-term data storage is reaching unprecedented levels. By 2020, it’s expected that zettabytes of data will be stored in the cloud. Operating at such scales requires a fundamental re-thinking of how we build large-scale storage systems, as well as the underlying storage technologies that underpin them.

Project Silica is developing the first-ever storage technology designed and built from the media up, for the cloud. We are leveraging recent discoveries in ultrafast laser optics to store data in quartz glass by using femtosecond lasers, and building a completely new storage system designed from scratch around this technology. This opens up an incredibly exciting opportunity to challenge and completely re-think traditional storage system design, and to co-design the future hardware and software infrastructure for the cloud.

We are hiring for this and related projects: Post-Doc Researchers in Storage Software and Optical Systems, and internships in Software, FPGA, Electronics and Optics.

This project is a collaboration with the University of Southampton Optoelectonics Research Centre, and was featured in a Microsoft Ignite 2017 keynote on future storage technologies.

Project Silica is part of the broader Optics for the Cloud project, which explores the future of cloud infrastructure at the intersection of optics and computer science.

In September 2017, Mark Russinovich, CTO of Azure, announced a number of new collaborations with MSR Cambridge including Project Silica. See Mark present the impressive early results (watch from 1:01:13 – 1:03:18).