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Faster, Faster: Feb 21, 2014

The University of Chicago's Elizabeth McNally and colleagues report in Bioinformatics that they've adapted Beagle, a Cray XE6 supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory, to analyze multiple genomes concurrently using publicly available software tools.

"The supercomputer can process many genomes simultaneously rather than one at a time," first author Megan Puckelwartz, a postdoc at Chicago, says in a statement. "It converts whole genome sequencing, which has primarily been used as a research tool, into something that is immediately valuable for patient care."

The researchers say that their approach of using a supercomputer to analyze genomes significantly improves the speed and accuracy of the process. They add that Beagle has the ability to align and call variants from 240 whole genomes in about 50 hours, something CNET notes might take a single 2.1 GHz CPU more than 47 years.

“Improving analysis through both speed and accuracy reduces the price per genome,” McNally adds. “With this approach, the price for analyzing an entire genome is less than the cost of the looking at just a fraction of genome. New technology promises to bring the costs of sequencing down to around $1,000 per genome. Our goal is get the cost of analysis down into that range.”