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2024-02-23| TechnologyTrending

Why NVIDIA’s CEO Huang Said AI Fostering Life Science:Highlighting GPU’s Applications in Biotech

by Oscar Wu
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Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) have become increasingly instrumental in advancing life science research due to their ability to perform rapid parallel processing. In the field of bioinformatics, GPUs can accelerate research with a typical speedup of two orders of magnitude, especially beneficial for high-throughput tasks that involve floating operations, parallelism, and energy efficiency. 

One study evaluated acceleration for life science applications, including the Markov Random Fields-based (MRF) liver segmentation and HMMER’s Viterbi algorithm, showcasing its potential for complex biological image processing and sequence analysis.

The Benefits and Challenges of Parallel Architectures for Life Sciences

GPUs have also played a substantial role in accelerating various bioinformatics tools over the past two to three decades, enabling computational analysis in different life science disciplines. 

The review highlights the advantages and limitations of using parallel architectures. In terms of image processing, GPU-accelerated libraries, such as CLIJ, facilitate batch processing of large amounts of image data at high speeds, furthering the capabilities of life science applications. 

An evaluation of life science algorithms for novel GPU architectures revealed that some computational tasks like Direct Coulomb Summation are particularly well-suited to GPU computing, outperforming traditional methods like Needleman-Wunsch sequence alignment in efficiency.

Transforming Next-Generation Sequence Analysis

GPU technology enables impressive performance enhancements in sequence alignment within bioinformatics, achieving speedups around 120X using dynamic and concurrent kernel features alongside tiling techniques. 

Similarly, molecular dynamics applications such as Gromacs have shown 2-3 times speedup on GPU platforms compared to multi-core CPUs, indicating favorable scaling behavior for life science computations. 

Another study examining GPU-accelerated DNA sequence alignment tools reported the potential for speeding up next-generation sequence analysis by 2x to 10x over traditional CPU-based tools.

Accelerating Drug Discovery with Molecular Docking

In molecular docking, a pivotal technique in drug discovery, GPU technology can significantly reduce computation times through its general-purpose computing capabilities, which enable effective parallelization.

The development of a GPU-based streamline pruning algorithm has achieved more than 100× speedups in generating brain connectomes for big data applications.

GPU technology has also shown promise in enhancing the speed and predictability of complex computational models in cyber-physical systems.

The Synergy of GPUs and TPUs for Life Science AI Advancement

GPUs are not only utilized in bioinformatics and computational biology but have also found applications in training and inference acceleration of artificial intelligence (AI) models such as neural networks in life science research, with both GPUs and TPUs being commonly used as AI accelerators. 

These examples demonstrate the versatility and transformative impact of GPU technology across various life science domains, contributing to an acceleration of scientific discovery and innovation.

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