Apple, Genentech tweak bioinformatics tool for Mac

By Peter Cohen
Wednesday, 20 February, 2002

APPLE Computer has collaborated with Genentech to launch a Mac version of popular bioinformatics tools from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Apple claims that Apple/Genentech Blast is up to five times faster than the standard BLAST implementation, and also improves accuracy over the standard NCBI Blast, depending on search parameters.

Apple reported that for certain common searches, Apple/Genentech Blast turned in results five times faster than a Windows-based system running NCBI Blast. The tests were performed with a dual 1GHz Power Mac G4 and a 2GHz Pentium 4-based system, respectively.

Genentech's senior vice-president of research, Dr Richard Scheller, said that his company was pleased to collaborate with Apple on their joint implementation of Blast. "The Apple/Genentech Blast will allow researchers to more efficiently utilize genomic information in basic biomedical research and drug discovery," Scheller said.

The project was developed by Apple's Advanced Computation Group, Genentech, and the Stanford University Genetics Department. The new version of Blast sports algorithmic improvements and advanced memory management, and puts some features of Apple's PowerPC G4 processor to good use, such as Velocity Engine and the chips' ability to perform multiple operations per clock cycle.

Distributed as open source, Apple/Genentech Blast is free to use, and the application and source code are available from the Apple website.

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