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Champions computing HP

March 7, 2002

Hewlett-Packard Co.
David Valenta
Worldwide Director of Market Development, Life Sciences

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What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Valenta: HP has been involved in the life sciences market since 1997. We started with solutions for computational chemists and molecular modelers, and we expanded our portfolio to include solutions in computational biology, genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics. Our strategy is to partner with best-in-class solution providers, deploying and managing solutions on HP infrastructure—from desktops to supercomputers.

HP entered this market for several reasons: we already had a portfolio of solutions for chemists, we saw our customers asking for other solutions from us, and we saw this as a very fast-growing market for our products.

What is your vision for the development of the life sciences market?
Valenta: My personal motivation for life sciences is the fascinating advances since the human genome has been annotated. Annotating the human genome means that we have created an outline of a map, and now it is time to find the cities, streets, mountains, rivers, etc. The real work is just beginning. Future development in life sciences will bring us closer to personalized medicine and treatment. From a computing point of view, this would mean our customers would need very fast and reliable computers and storage and a set of middleware that would allow them to manage and use these systems effectively.

What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
Valenta: HP does not offer special systems/products for the life sciences market. We design and sell multipurpose computers that can then be configured to a customer’s specific needs. To that end, we offer high-performance graphics workstations as well as entry point to high-end servers. HP offers our customers a choice of architectures: PA-RISC, IPF, and IA-32. We also offer a choice of operating environments: HP-UX, Linux, and Windows NT. Hewlett-Packard is a co-developer with Intel of the IPF architecture and is currently shipping Itanium-based systems with a number of life sciences applications. 

What new products and services do you have in development?
Valenta: Reconfigurable computing is a priority. HP’s research organization, HP LABS, recently built a Genetic Algorithm Supercomputer configured for protein folding, an application that could be useful to a biochemist conducting research on new medicines. Using a re-programmable FPGA (field programmable gate array) to implement the design, the group was able to speed up the application 300-fold.

Nanotechnology is another initiative. With the help of the STM (scanning tunneling microscope), HP Labs is developing chiplike devices created by combining molecular wires and switches that chemically assemble themselves into a useful circuit. These circuits could be working components for future computer manufacturing.

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