The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) has collaborated with UK-based high performance computing (HPC) hardware provider Optalysys to develop a new optical processing device to perform large-scale DNA sequence searches for crucial genomic research.
The device is expected to deliver annual energy savings of more than 95%.
The new Genetic Search System (GENESYS), which has been granted £500,000 in funding from government partner Innovate UK, will be responsible for conducting large-scale gene database searches powered by a standard mains supply.
GENESYS helps to reduce capital and energy costs required to undertake fundamental DNA research.
Evolutionary function and relationship between species and their common ancestors will also be indentified and understood with the DNA searches.
Under the deal, TGAC will be the first to apply the technology to the field of bioinformatics, where Optalysys's optical processing technology will be developed to conduct BLAST-like searches against more than 64 million base pairs of DNA within the Human Microbiome Mock Community database.
TGAC's HPC systems usually collectively consume up to 130kW of power. By using Optalysys' GENESYS technology, power consumption is expected to be reduced by more than 95% compared to its existing HPC facilities, while reducing the environmental impact of running traditional HPC.
Large HPC systems and robust searching software, such as BLAST are used to ensure searches complete in a reasonable time.
Optalysys CEO Dr Nick New said: "The GENESYS system has the potential to fundamentally change the field of DNA analysis by providing a system that is at least as accurate as current systems, but magnitudes faster, cheaper and smaller, fitting on a desktop.
"This brings the ability to perform this kind of analysis into the hands of a much broader base of companies and institutions who previously were unable to do so due to capacity constraints and prohibitive running costs."