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IBM Pushes Ahead with Genomics Collaborations

NEW YORK, June 5 - Apparently moving forward in its pledge to become a formidable player in the genomics marketplace, IBM unveiled a new supercomputer built for NuTec Sciences Tuesday, along with a 64-bit Java application for Micromass' ProteinLynx Global Server.


The NuTec computing cluster will have a processing capacity of 7.5 trillion calculations per second when fully operational, making it the fastest non-governmental system, IBM said. The cluster will contain 5,000 CPUs based on IBM eServer technology.


The system currently has 2,000 CPUs on line, with plans to gear-up to full capacity in six to nine months, said NuTec vice president of marketing Michael Mott.


NuTec's life science unit will use the system to study genes' role in disease.


"With an estimated 35,000 genes in the human genome, we realized we needed an extraordinarily robust computing environment to help pinpoint the four- or five-gene combination that may be a factor in a particular disease," said Anthony Shuker, president of NuTec Sciences' life sciences division. "This powerful tool will allow researchers to process vast amounts of genomic data in record time."


NuTec's life sciences unit is a bioinformaticss company that provides desktop software and parallel computing services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. NuTec will lease time on the supercomputer to medical research and academic institutions, biotechnology companies, and healthcare centers, the company said. 


On another front in their push into genomics, IBM announced that as part of its collaboration with Manchester, UK-based mass spectrometer maker Micromass, it will be integrating its 64-bit Java technology with Micromass' web-based ProteinLynx Global server, a database of protein sequences. The technology will be available to customers in July, according to an IBM spokesperson.


"Sixty-four bit Java technology allows us to search much larger databanks than ever before, making it possible to search the entire human genome database in one pass over the web," said Jeremy Batt, software director at Micromass. "This increased speed and performance for searches is vital to the scientists who depend on this data."


The software runs on an IBM eServer pSeries system with AIX, and allows scientists using Micromass equipment to log onto a web browser and submit mass spectrometry data to a ProteinLynx search. The results include a list of identified proteins as well as a highlight of the data not receiving any matches.


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