The Institute for Genomic Research migrates from HP to Sun to conduct complex molecular research with improved energy efficiency

Santa Clara 23 August 2006The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) selected Sun Microsystems to replace 15 HP Alpha servers and consolidate IT operations onto three Sun Fire x64 (x86, 64-bit) servers to power its complex genomic assembler for molecular research. Through a combination of Sun services and innovative technologies, TIGR has created a powerful yet cost-effective high performance computing (HPC) environment. The new system provides critical reliability, reduces energy consumption by more than 70 percent and dramatically reduces purchasing and operating costs, allowing the Institute to complete intricate research projects and to publish results on genomic findings in the fields of energy, agriculture, etc. to an eagerly-awaiting public on time and on budget.


A leader in genomic assembly since 1992, TIGR has helped deepen the understanding of life processes by producing DNA-specific research applicable to a wide range of applications in medicine, agriculture, energy, the environment and bio-defense. Genome assembly is a computationally-intensive process of re-building a large number of short DNA sequences generated by a sequencing project. The method requires some of the world's most powerful computing platforms and TIGR's HP Alpha clusters were rapidly growing unreliable, slow and cost prohibitive to operate, especially in terms of services support and cooling requirements.

"Our aging HP Alpha servers were growing quite sluggish and unreliable, which caused delays in conducting research, and therefore, delivering our research results to the public. The Alpha systems were also becoming cost prohibitive to operate. They required massive power and cooling systems and the lack of systems support continued to drive costs upward", stated Vadim Sapiro, director of IT, TIGR. "In addition to its services group that provided exceptional training and support, Sun's price/performance was compelling. We discovered three Sun Fire x64 servers powered by AMD Opteron processors running the 64-bit Linux OS provided the same level of performance as our 15 HP Alpha servers. The initial purchase price was much lower than our previous system and the power and cooling requirements were reduced by more than 70 percent, thereby helping to ease pressure on our IT budget."

TIGR is leveraging a variety of Sun technologies and services to conduct critical research in areas such as bioinformatics and robotics and then to publish the results to share the data with the public. In addition to the previously mentioned Sun Fire x64 servers, TIGR's genomic assembly software pipeline also utilizes the Sun N1 Grid Engine, which replaced TIGR's incumbent system to meet scalability goals. Additionally, Sun Ray appliances provide affordable and manageable training while also supporting TIGR's Biotech Core. The group is responsible for manually finishing genomes and for providing laboratory services such as DNA library construction, sequencing, and research and development. The scientists are able to accomplish these tasks using Sun Ray appliances that were one third the price of PCs.

"As evidenced by customers like TIGR, only Sun can provide comprehensive and affordable solutions that yield zero compromises in terms of power", stated Bjorn Andersson, director, HPC and Grid computing, Sun Microsystems. "Our Sun Ray appliances assist in training and research, our servers and software drive some of the world's most computationally-challenging applications, and our services division supports these massive initiatives. As such, only Sun can keep pace with the changing needs of life sciences initiatives."

The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) is a not-for-profit research institute based in Rockville, Maryland. TIGR, which sequenced the first complete genome of a free-living organism in 1995, has been at the forefront of the genomic revolution since the Institute was founded in 1992. TIGR conducts research involving the structural, functional, and comparative analysis of genomes and gene products in viruses, bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes.

Leslie Versweyveld

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