Parallelizing Epistasis Detection in GWAS on FPGA and GPU-Accelerated Computing Systems.

Jorge González-Domínguez, Lars Wienbrandt, Jan Christian Kässens, David Ellinghaus, Manfred Schimmler, Bertil Schmidt
Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
IEEE/ACM Trans Comput Biol Bioinform
Journal title long:
IEEE/ACM transactions on computational biology and bioinformatics / IEEE, ACM
Impact factor:
High-throughput genotyping technologies (such as SNP-arrays) allow the rapid collection of up to a few million genetic markers of an individual. Detecting epistasis (based on 2-SNP interactions) in Genome-Wide Association Studies is an important but time consuming operation since statistical computations have to be performed for each pair of measured markers. Computational methods to detect epistasis therefore suffer from prohibitively long runtimes; e.g., processing a moderately-sized dataset consisting of about 500,000 SNPs and 5,000 samples requires several days using state-of-the-art tools on a standard 3 GHz CPU. In this paper, we demonstrate how this task can be accelerated using a combination of fine-grained and coarse-grained parallelism on two different computing systems. The first architecture is based on reconfigurable hardware (FPGAs) while the second architecture uses multiple GPUs connected to the same host. We show that both systems can achieve speedups of around four orders-of-magnitude compared to the sequential implementation. This significantly reduces the runtimes for detecting epistasis to only a few minutes for moderately-sized datasets and to a few hours for large-scale datasets.