Genomic sequencing and analysis has emerged as one of the new keys to fighting a wide range of diseases. It’s increasingly used to drive precision medicine that tailors the treatment to the genetic makeup of the patient. It’s also used to identify patients who are predisposed to certain diseases and to identify patients who might have an adverse reaction to certain drugs.
This is all in a day’s work for the researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, one of Australia’s largest medical research institutions. The institute is on a mission to make significant contributions to medical science that will change the directions of science and medicine and have major impacts on human health. Garvan’s research focuses on some of the most critical areas in healthcare, including cancer, diabetes and metabolism, genomics and epigenetics, immunology and inflammation, osteoporosis and bone biology, and neuroscience.
This kind of research takes a lot of high-performance computing, and that’s where Dell EMC enters this picture. Garvan has selected Dell EMC to deliver a next-generation HPC system for its Data Intensive Computer Engineering (DICE) group. This system is designed to help Garvan’s researchers push scientific boundaries and transform the way genomic research is performed in Australia.
The DICE HPC infrastructure provides memory-intensive HPC compute nodes and a scalable design that allows for mixed workloads and extensive research data storage. With this new infrastructure, Garvan researchers have the computational horsepower they need to accelerate their analytic workloads and apply their research findings to patient treatment sooner rather than later.
The Dell EMC HPC infrastructure, built on 14th generation Dell EMC PowerEdge™ servers, enables researchers to leverage a best-of-breed architecture that is up to the challenges of compute- and data-intensive scientific workloads. Across 47 PowerEdge servers, the solution provides clinical researchers with the genomics processing capacity of 1,632 Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processor cores, and a whole lot more.
Dell EMC is also providing Garvan researchers with Intel Programmable Acceleration Cards with Intel Arria 10 GX FPGAs to develop high-performance hardware accelerated genomic analysis solutions. These accelerators will help the institute and its researchers validate and develop an approach to next-generation sequencing using the high throughput and parallel nature of the field programmable gate arrays. FPGAs can be dynamically reprogrammed with a datapath that exactly matches the workload, according to Intel. This versatility enables faster processing, better power efficiency and lower latency.1
The addition of FPGAs to the HPC environment could contribute to dramatic gains in genome processing at Garvan. The platform could increase the number of genomes processed each day by up to 330 percent — while using about the same amount of energy, according to Andrew Underwood, the HPC lead for Dell EMC in Australia and New Zealand.2
Ultimately, performance gains in genomic processing could help accelerate research and life-saving therapeutic advances in precision medicine — goals that are at the heart of the Garvan mission.
“We want to change the direction of medicine and have a life-changing impact on people’s health,” notes Dr. Warren Kaplan, chief of informatics at Garvan’s Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, in a news release on the institute’s new HPC infrastructure. “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. Genomics requires significant computational power to analyse the data, and that’s why we partnered with Dell EMC.”3
To learn more about Dell EMC solutions for HPC and life sciences, check out the Ready Solution for HPC Life Sciences Solution Overview.
 Intel® FPGA Acceleration HUB.
2 ComputerWorld AU, “Garvan Institute eyes FPGA boost to genomics research,” August 29, 2018.
3 Dell EMC news release, “Garvan Selects Dell EMC to Deliver HPC Infrastructure,” August 28, 2018.