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Intel helps advance genomics analytics with new architecture

After committing $25 million to a partnership with the Broad Institute, Intel announces some milestones that should advance genomics research into cancer and other diseases.


Less than a year after expanding its partnership with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT to advance the use high-performance computing for genomics analytics, Intel is announcing some milestones.

Intel and Broad have developed a new reference architecture, called the Broad-Intel Genomics Stack (BIGstack), which delivers a 5X improvement to Broad's genomics analytics pipeline. It uses Intel's CPUs, Omni-Path Fabric, and SSDs. The stack also includes optimizations for the Intel's integrated CPU and FPGAs.

The new architecture supports data volumes "at truly unprecedented scale," wrote Jason Waxman, corporate VP and GM of the Data Center Solutions Group at Intel, in a blog post.

With this sort of advancement in genomics analytics, he wrote, "we can take new steps toward understanding the molecular drivers of cancer and other diseases and accelerating the promise of precision medicine."

BIGstack is now available to the 45,000 registered users of GATK, Broad's genomics analysis toolkit. Waxman called it "the kind of breakthrough in affordability for the genomics analytics community" that Intel had in mind when it committed $25 million to its five-year collaboration with the Broad Institute last year.

Meanwhile, Intel also announced that the Broad Institute is open-sourcing GATK4.

Additionally, BGI -- a leader in China's genomics industry -- is adopting GATK tools, including GATK4, Broad's workflow management system Cromwell and the WDL (workflow definition language) on the BGI Online platform. The move should help align genomics research around the globe, Waxman said.