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NCGR Boosts Bioinformatics Capabilities With New Sun Server and Workstations

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SANTA FE, NM--The National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR), a nonprofit bioinformatics laboratory and repository for human and agricultural genomic data here, recently boosted its computing power and upgraded its bioinformatics training laboratory with the installation of equipment purchased from and donated by Sun Microsystems.

The center said its purchase of a Sun HPC 10000 Starfire server will improve its capacity for providing data access to researchers worldwide.

Users inside and out of NCGR will now be able to analyze genetic data sets such as the Genome Sequence DataBase using a variety of software programs, the center said. (Appli cations developed at NCGR include MAR-Finder, a gene sequence analysis tool and Sequence Viewer, a Java-based graphical utility, which will be introduced at the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Conference, sponsored by the Institute for Genomic Research in Miami in September.)

The center said the Starfire server will allow researchers to better execute computationally intensive applications such as phylogenetic tree programs, hidden Markov model fitting, motif searching, and genetic map construction. Additionally, the server's multiprocessor architecture will enable the use of parallel database servers to increase database performance. The Starfire will allow multiple databases to be administered centrally and is the only computer of its size to run the Solaris operating environment--the same platform as many other NCGR computers. Peter Wargo, NCGR group leader for systems administration, remarked that it was "amazing" that the center was able to buy an off-the-shelf supercomputer that fully integrates with its existing software and systems.

Sun gift

NCGR also received a gift from Sun of 20 Ultra 10 Workstations and four StorEdge A5000 Fibre Channel Arrays, which the center said will enable it to forge ahead with plans to become a national hub for bioinformatics training. NCGR spokeswoman Janine Sieja Hagerman told BioInform that a growing bioinformatics presence in the region, including NCGR-spinoff PE Molecular Informatics and a company called Bios Group, has increased demand for bioinformatics training and personnel here. She said the center plans to offer a range of scientific programs suitable for post-doctorates and practicing scientists. First, the new workstations will be used for internal training, she added.

Sun's donation was valued at $435,000, one of the largest ever received by NCGR.

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