Earlham Institute embraces green HPC with Verne Global
Earlham Institute (EI) has selected Verne Global’s data center campus in Iceland to investigate the efficiencies of distributing large-scale genomics and computational biology data analysis. The research institute is renowned for its contribution to the analysis and data-sharing of the highly complex wheat genome that is critical to securing future global food supplies.
In this project, a first for a UK academic institution, EI will examine the benefits of migrating a strategic collaborative bioinformatics analysis platform to Iceland via existing academic network providers JANET and NORDUnet.
EI, through Verne Global, will have access to one of the world’s most reliable power grids producing 100% geothermal and hydro-electric renewable energy. As EI’s HPC analysis requirements continue to grow, Verne Global will enable the institute to save up to 70% in energy costs (based on 14p to 4p KWH rate and with no additional power for cooling, significantly benefiting the organisation in their advanced genomics and bioinformatics research of living systems.
As a leader in the Life Sciences HPC community, EI aims to better understand complex scientific issues and their impact to society by categorising, processing, and analysing the DNA of various crops, animals, insects and microbes. This includes their flagship project, bread wheat, which is one of the most perplexing genomes to study, with a genome sequence five times bigger and more complex than the human genome.
One of EI’s primary goals is to understand crop genomes so new varieties can be developed to secure food supply in the face of a growing population and environmental change. The cutting-edge, high-throughput DNA sequencing instruments generate large amounts of data, from a few hundred gigabytes to several terabytes per run. The output requires significant computational effort, making the storage, processing, analysis and sharing of the data extremely challenging.
“Modern bioinformatics is driven by the generation of ever increasing volumes of genomic data requiring large and collaborative computing resources to help process it quickly and at scale. At EI, we have some of the largest computational platforms for the Life Sciences in Europe and the demand for our computing capability is only increasing, putting pressure on the capacity and operational costs of our existing data centers,” said Dr Tim Stitt, Head of Scientific Computing at EI.
“We are, therefore, very excited to be partnering with Verne Global in Iceland, who not only can supply medium and high power computing density at significantly lower energy costs, but who can also deliver excellent global network communications and data center security,” said Stitt.
“We are planning to publish a paper on our study, and I hope the impact of our collaboration with Verne Global will be the catalyst for many more academic institutions in the UK and Europe to consider migrating their computing infrastructures to Iceland and benefit from one of the world’s most reliable and cost-effective green energy resources. I’m very proud that EI is at the forefront of this shift,” Stitt concluded.
“As more organisations turn to high performance computing to process large data sets, demand is growing for scalable and secure data center solutions. The source, availability and reliability of the power grid infrastructure is becoming a critical factor in a data center site selection decision,” said Jeff Monroe, CEO at Verne Global.
“Verne Global is able to deliver EI a forward-thinking path for growth with a solution that combines unparalleled costs savings with operational efficiencies to support their data-intensive research,” explained Monroe.