By Matthew Dublin
The Center for Biological Sequence Analysis at the Technical University of Denmark, or DTU, has installed a supercomputer for systems biology and sustainable biotechnology industrial processes research. Called Anakyklosis — the Greek word for "recycling" — the new system is based on SGI's Altix UV 1000 technology and uses a shared-memory architecture to better enable processing of large data sets. With its current design, the system is able to store and process roughly 2,500 human genomes in its working memory at one time.
"The need for larger and faster computers has become very urgent due to the development of the metagenomics research area," said senior researcher Nikolaj Blom from the new Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at DTU in a press release. "This deals with mapping the entire genome content of bacterial communities, such as those found in the deep oceans, in wastewater or in our own gut — the resulting amount of data is several thousand times larger than the entire human genome."
Anakyklosis will be put to work on metagenomics systems biology including the identification of new enzymes for the biotech industry and the construction of biological cell factories that will produce inexpensive and sustainable raw materials that could be used in place of oil.
"Systems biology involves research that combines and integrates extremely large data sets, including genetic information. ... The computer's capacity will considerably expand our ability to answer the basic biological questions we face, such as how to get a cell to produce something it was not originally made for," added Søren Brunak, director of the Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, in the release.
Anakyklosis is already linked up to other supercomputers at the center to create a large distributed computing resource.