DNA Sequencing Caught in Deluge of Data
BGI, based in China, is the world’s largest genomics research institute, with 167 DNA sequencers producing the equivalent of 2,000 human genomes a day.
Nabil Azmay, a technician at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, checks a HiSeq 2000 that reads 300 billion bases per run.
BGI churns out so much data that it often cannot transmit its results to clients or collaborators over the Internet or other communications lines because that would take weeks. Instead, it sends computer disks containing the data, via FedEx.
“It sounds like an analog solution in a digital age,” conceded Sifei He, the head of cloud computing for BGI, formerly known as the Beijing Genomics Institute. But for now, he said, there is no better way.
The field of genomics is caught in a data deluge. DNA sequencing is becoming faster and cheaper at a pace far outstripping Moore’s law, which describes the rate at which computing gets faster and cheaper.
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