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Entropia Signs Novartis as First European Test Site for Distributed Computing Platform

NEW YORK, Aug. 28 – Entropia, of San Diego, on Tuesday said that Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis will evaluate its PC-based distributed computing technology under a two-month pilot study.

Under the program, Novartis, with headquarters in Basel, will assess the ability of the technology—which harnesses spare cycles available from an existing network of PCs—to meet the computational demands of its drug-discovery efforts.

Entropia estimated that the average PC sits idle more than 90 percent of the time and that its technology could provide a company an additional teraflop of compute power using as few as 2,500 processors with an average clock speed of about 500 MHz. 

Martin Stuart, vice president of life sciences at Entropia, said that “thousands of machines” would be utilized in the Novartis pilot, but was unable to disclose any further details about the installation.

The Novartis pilot is the second evaluation Entropia secured with a major pharmaceutical company recently. In July, the company signed a similar agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb, headquartered in New York. 

The Novartis pilot, to be supported locally by Entropia's  Cambridge, UK, office, serves as proof of Entropia’s “conscious commitment to the European pharmaceutical organizations,” Stuart said. With both US and European pharmaceutical players now evaluating the technology, Stuart added that full-scale adoption of the approach shouldn’t be far off.  

In addition, Stuart said, general acceptance of distributed computing is growing within the European community at a faster clip than in the US. “We’ve noticed a tremendous pull from Europe for distributed computing,” Stuart said. 

Typical applications by the pharmaceutical industry would find amenable to a distributed environment include sequence comparison applications for bioinformatics and large-scale in silico screening of compound repositories, Stuart said.

He added that  Entropia is able to rapidly integrate an organization’s applications into the distributed environment. In many cases, he said, no modification to the original application is necessary, but “there are other instances where you actually want to make modifications to the application to optimize its performance for a distributed environment.”

Entropia is roughly half-way through its pilot program with Bristol-Myers, Stuart said, “and is generating some very exciting data that clearly points to the efficiencies that can be gained from such a system.” 

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