AstraZeneca selects new SGI Altix 3000 system for discovery of candidate drugs

Mountain View 03 October 2003AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company, has purchased SGI Altix 3000 and SGI Origin 3000 servers and superclusters. Installed in the R&D facility at AstraZeneca's United States corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, the systems will support simulation studies and the large computational requirements of identifying promising drug candidates.


"The new 8-cpu Altix system, based on the Linux operating system and the Intel Itanium 2 processor, will support complex chemistry applications that are now becoming available on Linux platforms, and will do so with a shared memory model", explained AstraZeneca's Jim Damewood, associate director, Chemistry, Computational Chemistry & Informatics, whose department has used SGI technologies for the last 15 years. "This technology delivers the benefits of the modular Linux approach coupled with the ability to dedicate all processors to the same complex task simultaneously."

The shared memory architecture of SGI Origin and Altix servers and superclusters enables all processors within a system to tackle the same problem together, while the alternative distributed computing model requires tasks to be broken up into smaller jobs to be addressed by just a subset of processors. "The Origin server upgrade, installed in June, has expanded our high performance computing capacity to 64 processors", added Jim Damewood. "Data sets can be 50 to 100 gigabytes. That's an easy task for our SGI Origin and Altix systems due to their scalable, shared-memory architecture, but it can become an issue when dealing with distributed computing systems."

"SGI specializes in developing and delivering targeted solutions for scientific research", stated SGI's Bill Bartling, Senior Director, Market Strategy. "It is satisfying to see that AstraZeneca, one of our longest and most trusted customers, finds that its increasingly complex computing requirements are met by SGI solutions. We look forward to working with AstraZeneca for many years to come."

The new SGI Origin and Altix systems, installed at the end of June, will be dedicated to lead identification and optimization efforts, critical early phases in the discovery of novel chemical entities that are suitable for use as drugs in living systems.

AstraZeneca R&D Wilmington's Computational Chemistry & Informatics lab utilizes a combination of SGI high performance computing and visualization technologies, including graphics workstations for visualization and a large-screen SGI Reality Center meeting room for graphical display in group settings, in addition to its SGI Origin and Altix server infrastructure. The company's R&D facilities in Södertälje and Mölndal, Sweden, have similar SGI Reality Center facilities.

SGI, which has been an expert in the life sciences community for more than 15 years, delivers computational solutions for life and chemical sciences discovery research organisations in pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, academic and national labs. SGI, also known as Silicon Graphics Inc., is specialized in high performance computing, visualization and storage. SGI's vision is to provide technology that enables the most significant scientific and creative breakthroughs of the 21st century. Whether it is sharing images to aid in brain surgery, finding oil more efficiently, studying global climate or enabling the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, SGI is dedicated to addressing the next class of challenges for scientific, engineering and creative users.

AstraZeneca is a major international health care business engaged in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of health care services. It is one of the top five pharmaceutical companies in the world with health care sales of over $17,8 billion and leading positions in sales of gastro-intestinal, oncology, cardiovascular, neuroscience and respiratory products. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $9,3 billion health care business with more than 12.000 employees. AstraZeneca has three major research sites in North America: Wilmington, Delaware; Boston, Massachusetts; and Montreal, Canada. Worldwide, AstraZeneca operates nine major research and development sites.

Leslie Versweyveld

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