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UPDATE: Physiome Buys IBM s Power4-Based Supercomputer, Announces Research Pact

NEW YORK, Aug. 14 - IBM and Physiome Sciences have entered into a non-exclusive alliance that will combine IBM's supercomputing technology with Physiome’s biological modeling software, the companies announced.  

The deal, which makes IBM Physiome's preferred IT supplier for custom computing, will allow Physiome to “speed up” its ability to simulate models of various cells, tissues and organs, and affect the behavior of certain disease states. 

Specifically, privately held Physiome and its modeling collaborator, the University of Auckland, New Zealand, have each purchased from IBM one supercomputer that runs its latest-generation eServer Power4 technology. An IBM spokeswoman would not say how much the machines cost or whether the university would pay a discount.

The companies, which made their announcement at the 2001 annual Drug Discovery Technology meeting in Boston on Monday, also said that they plan to collaborate to “explore research collaborations to integrate complementary technologies” in pattern recognition and gene-expression analysis. 

Financial terms of either the purchase or collaboration were not disclosed, but Jane Maida, Physiome’s CFO, told GenomeWeb that she “would assume that there is plenty of room for revenue to go back and forth.”

The supercomputers, which according to the IBM spokeswoman do not yet have a name, are set to arrive in the fourth quarter of this year. She added that the company has not yet shipped a unit to any customer, and that Physiome and the University of Aukland will be "among the first" to receive it. 

In return, IBM, which said it did not provide an equity investment in Physiome, plans to license the firm’s PathwayPrism technology “for internal use.” IBM would not elaborate what those uses were.  

“Our alliance with IBM will speed this (research) process and enhance our technology capability to develop the leading in silico solutions,” Jeremy Levin, Physiome’s president and CEO, said in a statement. 

IBM, which beat out Compaq, Sun Microsystems and other IT giants with broad life-science partnerships, said that its Power4 technology will feature the world's first computer chip containing two processors. 

“I was really impressed with their life sciences group,” Maida said, explaining why Physiome chose IBM. “I think they keep it fairly quiet that they have these researchers in there. People forget about the research side of IBM.”

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