The supercomputer

It takes an extremely powerful computer to convert patient samples to usable data about our genes. That is why the engine of the National Genome Center is a supercomputer that can fit, load and process all the data being sampled from patients all over the country.

It takes an extremely powerful computer to convert patient samples to usable data about our genes. That is why the engine of the National Genome Center is a supercomputer that can fit, load and process all the data being sampled from patients all over the country.

The core of the new infrastructure service that all Danish hospitals are free to use is a supercomputer system. The National Genome Center's aim is to ensure that all patients get the same opportunities for high-quality genetic analysis, regardless of where they live.

The National Genome Center is a world-leading facility when it comes to handling huge amounts of diverse health data in the field of Personalised Medicine. The supercomputer system is designed to collect, contain, analyse, handle and combine extremely large and diverse sets of data like text from patient records, X-rays and genetic information. The supercomputer is so powerful that it is capable of uncovering patterns and connections that give a much more precise picture of the patient who is about to undergo treatment.

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At the same time, the supercomputer system means that Danish health scientists get more opportunities to incorporate their patients' genetic data in long-term research that aims to improve treatments for the benefit of future patients. The system's capacity facilitates big-scale research projects within the field of Personalised Medicine. The research projects are expected to lead to new scientific breakthroughs that – in time – will help strengthen our ability to treat patients efficiently. One example are the new databases that are being built to make it possible to map the individual patient's genetic profile and use that knowledge actively in the specific treatment plan. It is safe to say that the initiative is a pioneering step that enables better and more coordinated interaction between patient and research, which is essential for the successful development of Personalised Medicine.

The supercomputer is a massive display of processing power. It has to be, since a complete digitised genetic profile for just one human being takes up between 100 and 200 GB. In relative terms that is roughly the same as a pile of filled-out papers the height of the Round Tower in Copenhagen. The computer is extremely strong because it needs to go through enormous amounts of data to find unique patient genomes and genome variants that can either lead to disease or increased risk. Although our genetic material does not take up much room inside our cells, it does contain incredible amounts of information.

patientdata infografik

Genome data for just one individual patient takes up 100-200 GB. That is the roughly the same as a pile of filled-out papers the height of Copenhagen's Round Tower.

The supercomputer design balances data security and data performance. Safe handling of personal information has been a key non-violatable parameter throughout the design phase. The supercomputer lives up to the international standards for data protection, and patient data are kept and used with the most careful attention to safety. Genome data as well as other kinds of health data are stored and used in a much safer way than seen before, and the entire system is world-leading when it comes to data protection.

 

Facts about the supercomputer

  • The supercomputer will have approx. 17.000 CPU cores. This means that the supercomputer has the same processing power as more than 4000 PCs combined. When a CPU runs on several cores it allows the processor to run several operations at the same time.
  • The supercomputer's performance is more than 1200 teraflops. A Teraflop is defined as the capacity of a data processor that can compute a trillion so-called floating point operations every second. So, with 1200 teraflops, the supercomputer can handle 1200 trillion floating points operations every second.
  • The supercomputer is based on "security by design"
  • The supercomputer takes up the space of three 19,5 meter containers
  • The supercomputer is specifically designed for Life Science purposes and can handle large amounts of data safely, flexibly and accurately. 
  • The supercomputer will not be affected by the Intel CPU vulnerabilities Spectre and Meltdown.
  • The supercomputer is environmentally friendly. 70 % of the computer's servers are cooled with water at 40 degrees, and the heat generated is used to heat the surrounding buildings. 

Example of the data-technological journey

 

 

  • University hospitals
  • National center for whole-genome sequencing, east and west
  • National High Performance Computing and National Genome Center
1.
Reagensglas ikon

When the patient has given consent to getting a comprehensive genetic analysis, the patient sample is sent from Aalborg University Hospital to the advanced national whole-genome sequencing center's laboratory unit in Aarhus.

2.
Computer med DNA streng på skærmen og hængelås

The patient's genetic data is transferred to the national High Performance Computing Center.

3.
Computerskærm med DNA streng på skærmen og to mennesker som ser på skærmen

Healthcare professionals at the University Hospital get access to interpreting the patient's genetic data via the secure IT infrastructure in the national High Performance Computing Center. The doctor at the hospital where the patient is being treated receives the result of the analysis. The doctor then explains the patient how the analysis can be used in the treatment.

4.
Hånd med medicin inden i og forstørrelsesglas med bogstaver inden i

The clinical report is hereafter a part of both the patient's digital record and the national databases. This will make it easier for doctors and medical professionals to turn knowledge into treatment locally for the benefit of the patient.