The new ExaScience Life Lab includes five Flemish universities as well as Janssen, a unit of Johnson & Johnson. They will collaborate on new algorithms, libraries and simulation codes for drug discovery running on Intel's Xeon Phi processors.
Initially the lab will explore ways to create life science simulations and accelerate genome sequencing. The work could open doors to more personalized and effective drugs for a wide range of conditions, said Gunaretnam Rajagopal, head of computational sciences at Janssen.
The center will work on simulation tools, parallel programing models and libraries.
"Computers simulate cells now, but we would like to simulate tissues," said Wilfried Verachtert, IMEC's director of the ExaScience lab that started work in 2010 modeling space weather. Genome sequencing now takes two days using 16 computers, which is acceptable for an individual, but "we need to be able to do it with the dozens and hundreds of people in a drug trial," he added.
For Intel, the work provides input on its future hardware directions for chips such as the multicore Xeon Phi.
"We have a weekly dialog with architects building systems especially with the Xeon Phi family," said Luc Provoost, Intel's lab director in the project. "They want to see optimal algorithms and apps from specialists and their use cases to see if they should change their cache or instruction sizes," he said.