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Biology and computing

Biology and computing used to be at opposite ends of the scientific spectrum. But the deluge of DNA data and the complexity of computer networks have begun a productive conversation between the two-which may lead to a kind of union.

By Tom Standage   December 2000

Inside a long, low sliver of glass and steel in upstate New York, the world’s most powerful computer is taking shape. It will consist of 256 cube-shaped racks laid out on a 16-by-16 grid. Each rack will contain four circuit boards, each of which will have 36 chips mounted on it. Each of these chips, in turn, will contain 32 processors, each one equivalent in computing power to one of today’s fastest desktop PCs. The resulting supercomputer, which is called Blue Gene and is being constructed by IBM at its Thomas J Watson research centre, will thus consist of a…

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