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Hitachi, Singapore's A*STAR to Build Storage System for Genomic Sequence Data

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This article has been updated to include comments from A*Star's spokesperson and additional details about the storage resource.

Hitachi's Asian subsidiary is working with Singapore's science and technology agency to develop a new storage system for genomic sequence data, the partners said recently.

Hitachi will provide hardware and other systems to retrieve and store the data, Nobutoshi Sagawa, general manager of Hitachi Asia's research and development center, told BioInform via e-mail. Meanwhile, the Data Storage Institute of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, or A*STAR, will provide "DNA-related data, its application, and the basic mechanisms/algorithms to treat the data," he said.

An A*Star spokesperson told BioInform in an email, that the institute will develop algorithms for "data migration across a hybrid storage" infrastructure comprised of non-volatile memory, solid-state drives, and hard disk drives.

The resource will provide petabytes of storage in addition to read/write access to files from lab instruments and instrument control workstations; high performance computing systems and clusters; and users' desktops among other capabilities.

The partners plan to test the resource at the Genome Institute of Singapore, an A*STAR member institute, thus making it easier "to work out the issues faced by users of such a system under real working conditions," the partners said.

Sagawa said that assessing the storage demands of sequencing data, while determining how to enhance the speed of analysis, will be a key aspect of the collaboration.

A*STAR is a Singapore-based agency that oversees 14 biomedical and physical sciences and engineering research institutes, including DSI, as well as six consortia and centers.

Sagawa said that Hitachi chose to partner with A*STAR because of its "high potential" in the life sciences. He noted that the group has "hands-on knowledge about DNA sequencing and its application as well as the technology to handle the large amount of data DNA sequencing would produce."

Hitachi has "previous business experience" in the genomics market, he said, but did not provide additional details about the company's efforts in the space or whether it plans to increase its presence in the field.

Sagawa did say, however, that the company plans to market the outcome of the A*STAR project globally. He noted that most current storage options are general-purpose systems, while the resource the partners are planning to build in this project will offer "data-access patterns specific to DNA data analysis."

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