Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Real-world comparison of CPU and GPU implementations of SNPrank

A nice paper on network analysis of GWAS data using high-performance computing.

Davis NA, Pandey A, McKinney BA. Real-world comparison of CPU and GPU implementations of SNPrank: a network analysis tool for GWAS. Bioinformatics. 2011 Jan 15;27(2):284-5. [PubMed]


MOTIVATION: Bioinformatics researchers have a variety of programming languages and architectures at their disposal, and recent advances in graphics processing unit (GPU) computing have added a promising new option. However, many performance comparisons inflate the actual advantages of GPU technology. In this study, we carry out a realistic performance evaluation of SNPrank, a network centrality algorithm that ranks single nucleotide polymorhisms (SNPs) based on their importance in the context of a phenotype-specific interaction network. Our goal is to identify the best computational engine for the SNPrank web application and to provide a variety of well-tested implementations of SNPrank for Bioinformaticists to integrate into their research.

RESULTS: Using SNP data from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium genome-wide association study of Bipolar Disorder, we compare multiple SNPrank implementations, including Python, Matlab and Java as well as CPU versus GPU implementations. When compared with naïve, single-threaded CPU implementations, the GPU yields a large improvement in the execution time. However, with comparable effort, multi-threaded CPU implementations negate the apparent advantage of GPU implementations.

AVAILABILITY: The SNPrank code is open source and available at http://insilico.utulsa.edu/snprank.

CONTACT: brett.mckinney@gmail.com.


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