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Gigascience. 2018 May 1;7(5). doi: 10.1093/gigascience/giy028.

Tracking the NGS revolution: managing life science research on shared high-performance computing clusters.

Dahlö M1,2,3, Scofield DG2,4, Schaal W1,2,3, Spjuth O1,2,3.

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Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, SE-750 03, Sweden.
Uppsala Multidisciplinary Center for Advanced Computational Science, Uppsala University, Uppsala, SE-751 05, Sweden.
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, SE-751 24, Sweden.
Department of Ecology and Genetics: Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, SE-752 36, Sweden.



Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has transformed the life sciences, and many research groups are newly dependent upon computer clusters to store and analyze large datasets. This creates challenges for e-infrastructures accustomed to hosting computationally mature research in other sciences. Using data gathered from our own clusters at UPPMAX computing center at Uppsala University, Sweden, where core hour usage of ∼800 NGS and ∼200 non-NGS projects is now similar, we compare and contrast the growth, administrative burden, and cluster usage of NGS projects with projects from other sciences.


The number of NGS projects has grown rapidly since 2010, with growth driven by entry of new research groups. Storage used by NGS projects has grown more rapidly since 2013 and is now limited by disk capacity. NGS users submit nearly twice as many support tickets per user, and 11 more tools are installed each month for NGS projects than for non-NGS projects. We developed usage and efficiency metrics and show that computing jobs for NGS projects use more RAM than non-NGS projects, are more variable in core usage, and rarely span multiple nodes. NGS jobs use booked resources less efficiently for a variety of reasons. Active monitoring can improve this somewhat.


Hosting NGS projects imposes a large administrative burden at UPPMAX due to large numbers of inexperienced users and diverse and rapidly evolving research areas. We provide a set of recommendations for e-infrastructures that host NGS research projects. We provide anonymized versions of our storage, job, and efficiency databases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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