NVIDIA offers free genome software to COVID-19 researchers


NVIDIA has made its Parabricks genome-sequencing software available at no charge to researchers sequencing the coronavirus and the genomes of those suffering from COVID-19.

The company said Parabricks can slash the time for variant calling on an entire human genome from two days to one hour on a single server, giving researchers a powerful tool with which to help better understand the virus.

The graphics firm said it will provide a free 90-day license to any researcher in the worldwide effort to fight the novel coronavirus,

Parabricks uses a PC’s graphics card to accelerate by as much as 50 times the analysis of sequence data.

While Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) are most commonly used to process the complex graphics seen in the latest games, their number-crunching capacity can be used for other tasks too.

In this case Parabricks, based on the Genome Analysis Toolkit, the computing power is used to accelerate a series of tools primarily designed to process genetic information generated by Illumina and its sequencing technology.

But the tools can be adapted to handle genetic information from any other organism, which is why it could be of use in research against the coronavirus.

NVIDIA is in talks with partners to assist the effort, and is discussing how to provide computing resources with cloud service providers and supercomputing centres.

For researchers working with Oxford Nanopore long-read data, NVIDIA has also provided a repository of GPU-accelerated tools.

The company said it will update its blog with links to other firms who can provide cloud-based access to its GPUs and the software as soon as the resources are available.

Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Parabricks joined NVIDIA’s healthcare team in December in a move that the company said would take genetic sequencing into the mainstream.

The technology could lower the cost of genome sequencing to $2, less than half the cost of rival systems, NVIDIA said at the time.

Researchers with access to NVIDIA GPUs can fill out this form to request a Parabricks license.