Bioinformaticians are enlightened by demonstration of Optalysys light speed technology

Optalysys held an interactive seminar on the 5th of November at The Genome Analysys Centre (TGAC) in Norwich for bioinformaticians and genome experts.  The seminar formed part of the design phase of a collaborative project where TGAC and Optalysys are working together on a new Genetic Search System (GENESYS) that will form a working, demonstrable system for a real world environment.  The project will form the foundations of a commercially viable Optalysys product that will be faster, cheaper and more energy efficient than anything else on the market.

Stuart Catchpole of TGAC kicked off the proceedings by inviting the first speaker – Optalysys Chairman, James Duez – to take the floor.

James outlined the appetite of many high profile organisations including the U.S. government for faster processing abilities, stating that “today’s computers are unable to quench the increasing demand for HPC (High Performance Computing)”.  Mr Duez shared the Optalysys vision to deliver processing power by 2022 that is 500x faster than the supercomputer that is currently considered to be the fastest in the world (Tianhe2).

He then went on to highlight the co-processor’s ability to turbo-charge high performance and standard computers, by delivering:

  • dramatic acceleration for existing computers
  • massive reduction in power consumption
  • disruptive pricing
  • small physical footprint, fitting on a standard desk or in a rack

Next to take the floor was Dr Tim Stitt, Head of Scientific Computing at TGAC.  Dr Stitt spoke about the growing bank of data that the world’s platforms are generating, explaining that by 2017 the industry would have produced exabytes of data.  The ability to undertake faster and more efficient sequencing alignments will be fundamental to understanding and assimilating the ever-expanding volumes of data produced.  He explained that large computing resources with increased performance capabilities will be crucial to undertaking the resulting analysis that will be required.

Sequence 0119

The event concluded with Dr Nick New demonstrating how the Optalysys optical processor could be applied specifically to bioinformatic pattern matching and sequencing.

Sequence 0111    Sequence 0114

Following Dr New’s demonstration, the 60 people that attended the event were given the chance to ask questions and convey feedback to the project team that would help to shape the functionality of the eventual commercial product.  They also completed a survey to gauge thoughts about what had just been demonstrated.

Dr Nick New said:

“It was extremely encouraging for the GENESYS project team to hear that the people attending the event said that they were likely to use this technology in the future.  We are confident that the final Optalysys-powered product that will be built alongside the knowledge we gather from TGAC, will more than impress bioinformaticians with its ability to process data faster and more cost effectively than has been seen before.   

Of course, it wasn’t a surprise that nearly 90% confirmed that speed was the most important factor to their future adoption of the technology.  For bioinformaticians, the ability to be able to perform genome and protein sequence alignments in a fraction of the time is game changing, and will enable them to devote more time to further important scientific research.


Notes to editors:

About Optalysys:

Optalysys was founded in 2013.  CEO Dr Nick New, a renowned world expert in optical pattern recognition, developed the forerunner to the Optalysys technology whilst carrying out his PhD on optical pattern recognition at Cambridge University. Dr New went on to forge relationships with international academic and commercial institutions, including NASA, MBDA and British Aerospace before securing funding to take Optalysys forward.

Optalysys Chairman James Duez is a respected business and technology innovator who has pioneered several award-winning technologies. James has worked extensively with Global 250 organisations and government departments.

The Optalysys team includes specialists in software development, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), free-space optics, optical engineering and production engineering.

The company has several patents covering its groundbreaking technology.

Find out more at

© 2015 Optalysys Ltd. All rights reserved

About TGAC
The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) is a world-class research institute focusing on the development of genomics and computational biology. TGAC is based on the Norwich Research Park and receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) – £7.4M in 2013/14 – as well as support from other research funders. TGAC is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from BBSRC. TGAC operates a National Capability to promote the application of genomics and bioinformatics to advance bioscience research and innovation.

TGAC offers state of the art DNA sequencing facility, unique by its operation of multiple complementary technologies for data generation. The Institute is a UK hub for innovative Bioinformatics through research, analysis and interpretation of multiple, complex data sets. It hosts one of the largest computing hardware facilities dedicated to life science research in Europe. It is also actively involved in developing novel platforms to provide access to computational tools and processing capacity for multiple academic and industrial users and promoting applications of computational Bioscience. Additionally, the Institute offers a Training programme through courses and workshops, and an Outreach programme targeting schools, teachers and the general public through dialogue and science communication activities.

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