By Zoe Moleshead
Sandia National Laboratories and Celera Genomics are aiming to develop the next generation software and computer hardware solutions specifically designed for the demands of computational biology .
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that Sandia National Laboratories and Celera Genomics, an Applera Corporation business, have signed a co-operative Research and Development Agreement, along with Compaq who are providing the project technology. The aim of the project is to develop the next generation software and computer hardware solutions that will be specifically designed for the demands of computational biology as well as a full range of life sciences applications. This level of co-operation is necessary to meet the dramatic increases in performance required for emerging genomics and proteomics applications at affordable prices, and brings together the capabilities of three leaders in the fields of bioinformatics, high performance computing, and massively parallel systems.The alliance will use Compaq Alpha processors connected in massively parallel configuration with extremely high bandwidth, and low latency mesh interconnects and all will focus on future generations of the AlphaServer SC series; the goal is to create a prototype in the 2004 time frame. Celera and Sandia will also concentrate on creation of advanced algorithms for biology research, and on new visualisation technologies for analysing the massive quantities of experimental data from high-throughput instruments. “The next stage of the biotechnology revolution that was started by the Human Genome Program will be fuelled by the successful marriage of molecular biology with high performance computing science,” said DOE Secretary, Bill Richardson, who presided over the ceremony. “The Department of Energy, as it helped develop the technology that made the human genome project possible, once again, is forging ahead to provide the tools to bring the genome to life.”“The key aspect of this R&D relationship is the simultaneous provision of algorithmic support, design of actual application software, and development of the system platform by three organisations with world-class competence in their respective areas,” said Bill Blake, vice president of High Performance Technical Computing at Compaq. J Craig Venter, Celera’s president and chief scientific officer, added, “Just three years ago, the computational needs of biology were thought to be minor and irrelevant to the computing industry. Today, biologists are setting the pace of development for the industry. At Celera, we take pride in excelling in the application of computers to biology and the new era in medicine that is developing as a result. As Compaq and the Department of Energy move toward creation of the next generation of supercomputers for defence purposes, we look forward to helping both groups develop the new machines, software and algorithms to advance life sciences.”