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June 16, 2011

SGI System Supports Metagenomics Research

Nicole Hemsoth

SGI’s Altix UV 1000 “Anakyklosis” at the Technical University of Denmark is being used to enable researchers to find new genes and proteins that could benefit future biotechnology initiatives to back industrial processes.

The system provides large shared memory for researchers to tackle projects in metagenomics, an area which involves far larger data sets than general human genome research would require.

According to Thumas Sicheritz-Ponten, director of the metagenomics research project at the University, the limitations in memory were showstoppers for this type of work in the past. He notes, however, that the SGI super Anakyklosis “can hold the equivalent of 2500 human genomes in its working memory at once, so it opens up new opportunities for systems biology research.”

According to one of the lead researchers on the project, Nikolaj Blom, “The need for larger and faster computers has become very urgent due to the development of the metagenomics research area…this deals with mapping the entire genome content of bacterial communities, such as those found in the deep oceans, in wastewater or our own gut. The resulting amount of data is several thousand times larger than the entire human genome.”

The research being conducted on the SGI machine could help reduce dependence on fossil fuels. According to the researchers, by finding ways to produce chemicals and other industrial components out of organic materials, which will lead to a broader base of sustainable raw materials to work from.

Full story at NewElectronics

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