Computer to do a billion calculations a second

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The Independent Online
IBM IS seeking to unlock the secrets of the human body with a supercomputer 1,000 times more powerful than the chess-playing Deep Blue.

The company will build a computer called Blue Gene, to solve the mysteries of how proteins get their shape, which could provide crucial understanding of diseases such as hepatitis and Aids. "We have a chance not only to change the future of computing, but also the future of health care," said Paul Horn, the senior vice president of research at IBM.

IBM expects it will take up to five years the equivalent of nearly pounds 61m to build the computer, which will be a million times faster than the average desktop computer. It will perform 1 million billion mathematical operations a second, 500 times more than the fastest computer today. Stan Burt, a researcher in computational biology at the National Cancer Institute in Fredrick, Maryland, said the problem of analyzing proteins is "one of the Holy Grails of biology."

Knowing more about proteins could allow scientist to tailor drugs to lock to the proteins, blocking them or changing their function, he said. (AP)

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