Garvan Institute gets new supercomputer for genomic research

Dell EMC is providing the Garvan Institute of Medical Research with a new HPC system to support genomic research and analysis.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research has announced that it will be receiving a new high-performance computing (HPC) system to support genomic research and analysis.

Genomics is the study of information encoded in an individual's DNA, allowing researchers to study how genes impact health and disease, and it is the institute's mission to make significant contributions to medical research that will change the directions of science and medicine and have major impacts on human health.

The new supercomputing system, to be delivered by Dell EMC, will be used by Garvan's Data Intensive Computer Engineering (DICE) group.

The Garvan Institute is one of Australia's largest medical research institutions, focused specifically on research into cancer, diabetes and metabolism, genomics and epigenetics, immunology and inflammation, osteoporosis and bone biology, and neuroscience.

According to Dr Warren Kaplan, chief of informatics at Garvan's Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, genomics requires significant computational power to analyse the data.

"We want to change the direction of medicine and have a life-changing impact on people's health. We see genomics as the key to driving this transformative change, and we couldn't achieve this without the computing infrastructure to make it possible," Kaplan said.

See also: In pictures: The world's 25 fastest supercomputers (TechRepublic)

According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, when the first human genome was sequenced, the project that began in 1990 took over 10 years and cost around $2.7 billion.

Now Garvan can sequence up to 50 genomes per day at a base price of around $1,000.

To store, analyse, and use this genomic information effectively, Garvan requires large computational resources and data storage -- each person's genomic data contains over 6 billion bases and around 5 million genetic variants, taking up to 700 hours to process.

"The technology has transformed the way we do science," Kaplan continued. "It's given us the ability to transform Garvan into a data-driven medical research institute, and the more genomes we sequence, the more we're able to use that information to inform future studies."

The new system is expected to underpin several genomic datasets, including the Sydney Genomics Collaborative and the Medical Genome Reference Bank, and will help drive the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Program and other initiatives, the institute said.

The DICE HPC system has been built on Dell EMC's 14th generation PowerEdge high-performance computing technology.

Across 47 Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, the solution will provide clinical researchers with the genomics processing capacity of 1,632 Intel Xeon Scalable Processor cores; 10 Intel Arria 10 GX FPGAs; 122,880 Nvidia Tesla V100 CUDA cores; 15,360 Nvidia Tensor cores, expected to accelerate HPC and AI techniques; 744TB of NVMe to accelerate in memory processing of genome datasets; 41TB DDR4 RAM Memory; and 530TB usable capacity CephFS storage.


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