From today, thousands of Australian researchers have access to the power of the computing cluster that created the Lord of the Rings and King Kong.
By using a new service called Green Button, professional scientists and students will get instant access on their desktop to a cluster of 3,000 processors based in Wellington, New Zealand, to perform fast genetic analysis.
“Say you want to investigate the origin of the HIV pandemic, or work out the relationship between thousand of human genes. You can beg, borrow, or steal access to a small cluster of computers at your research institute and wait hours or even days for your results, or you can push the Green Button,” says Candace Toner, CEO of NZ company Biomatters.
“Your analysis will be sent to the supercomputer and for one cent per processor per minute you can have the results as quickly as you want. This is a ‘world first’ service, and is going to be available to any scientist, anywhere on the planet.”
“For example $120 buys you the power of 200 processors for an hour,” Candace says.
“This is part of our company’s crusade to create research software for biologists, not computer scientists,” says Shane Sturrock, the company’s technical sales manager for Australia and New Zealand.
The supercomputing power is put on researchers’ desktops by Geneious – a gene analysis package developed by Biomatters’ founder, Alexei Drummond.
Alexei, an evolutionary biologist from West Auckland realised while completing his PhD at Oxford University, that a better tool was needed to analyse gene sequences.
Computing power was central to the mapping of the $3 billion human genome project. But with the new technology, in a few years your own genome could be mapped for around a thousand dollars. Gene analysis is the Rosetta stone of biology – it’s revealing the family trees and interrelationships between all living organisms. It’s transforming cancer diagnosis, plant breeding, genealogy, forensics – every field of biology.
But it’s also producing vast amounts of data, and that is where Geneious and the ‘Green Button’ come in. They give researchers the power to find patterns and reveal relationships, all from their desktop.
The supercomputer cluster is managed commercially by Intergrid who are based in Wellington with additional sites in Australia, US, India and China. Intergrid manages over 3,000 Intel Xeon processers for film rendering, oil and gas modelling, financial modelling and many other applications.
Biomatters are launching their Green Button service in Australia today at Ausbiotech – the national biotechnology conference in Melbourne. They are part of a contingent of 13 NZ biotechnology companies in this year’s delegation led by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.