You could fit the data from 25 million 1TB SSDs on this 5cm diamond wafer

by John Stapel

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A photo of a diamond wafer overlaid on a blue background with an NVMe SSD
(Image credit: Future, Saga University, Adamant Namiki)

Researchers in Japan say they've concocted a new method of creating wafers out of diamonds able to store mammoth amounts of data on them. We're talking 25 exabytes of storage, which is a 25,000 petabytes. Or 25,000,000 terabytes. Or 25 billion gigabytes. It's a dizzying amount of data, that's for sure.

If you assume there's roughly 50,000 games on Steam and each one is around 80GB, which to be completely honest is probably a gross exaggeration of the average game install size on the platform, you'd be looking at around four petabytes of data required to install the lot. So with a single diamond wafer you could save the entire Steam catalogue 6,250 times. 

Though there's likely room for much more if you factor in how many visual novels there are on Steam.

Now it's not like this diamond wafer will act like a disc you throw into your machine. This is quantum storage, and it uses a defect in diamond, known as the nitrogen-vacancy center, to store a quantum bit, or qubit (via New Atlas).

This defect in diamonds has proven quite useful already in use for quantum computers, as it allows researchers to read out the specific spin of an electron. That's a key part of how a quantum computer works, along with quantum entanglement, and how they might one day reach a point of utility for computing workloads far beyond what is possible with a classical computer today. These diamond qubits are even useful at room temperature, which means less reliance on super-cooling gases that many quantum qubits require to operate.

A photo of a diamond wafer next to a ruler and a smaller diamond crystal for measurement.

The new diamond wafer next to current commercially available square crystal. (Image credit: Saga University, Adamant Namiki)

To make these diamond nitrogen-vacancy centers work as storage, the researchers needed to find a steady supply of high-purity diamonds that are big enough to store data within that nitrogen-vacancy center.  And that's just what they've devised: Saga University and Adamant Namiki Precision Jewelery Co. in Japan have figured out a new method of manufacturing (or rather growing) diamonds up to 55mm, which are prime candidates for use in quantum applications. Previous commercially available diamond crystals were only available up to around a 4mm square in size. 

With these diamonds, the researchers were able to create 5cm big diamond wafers (which they call Kenzan Diamond) that can store up to 25 exabytes of data. That's far more storage than millions of 1TB NVMe SSDs combined.

"A 2-inch diamond wafer theoretically enables enough quantum memory to record 1 billion Blu-ray discs. This is equivalent to all the mobile data distributed in the world in one day, and fits on one diamond wafer" a press release says. One single-layer Blu-ray is 25GB.

These new wafers will be commercialised in 2023, though you'll probably have to find another way to deal with your growing Steam library in the meantime. I doubt we'll be running diamond wafers in our PCs anytime soon. Or probably ever.

Jacob Ridley

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.