Busy week at Intel bolsters its presence in life sciences

Falling sales of personal computers have chipped away at one of the cornerstones of Intel's ($INTC) business over the past few years. The chipmaker has responded by diversifying and this week made three such moves, each of which has implications for the life sciences sector.

Intel started the week by buying its way into the mHealth space, went on to outline how it is working with the Broad Institute to speed genome analysis, and ended the flurry of activity by acquiring a "significant" stake in Big Data startup Cloudera. The three deals all move Intel beyond providing chips for PCs and onto several fringes of healthcare. Each could prove significant, but the effect of work to optimize Broad Institute's Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) for Intel servers is the most immediate.

"We've been able to significantly reduce the run time for our variant caller--one of the key tools within the GATK," Broad Institute genome sequencing chief Eric Banks said in a statement. The partners claim they have improved variant discovery by up to 5 times through use of a set of Intel-developed instructions known as Advanced Vector Extensions. Intel and the Broad Institute are now working to clear other computational bottlenecks currently faced by genomics researchers.

Cloudera--a Big Data company Intel bought a stake in this week--is also working toward this goal. The Palo Alto, CA-based business uses open-source Hadoop software to support data management at its clients and collaborators, which include Mount Sinai Medical Center. As well as buying a "significant" but undisclosed stake in the company, Intel is also adopting Cloudera's Hadoop platform instead of its own customized version. Cloudera will engineer the platform to run best on Intel servers.

Intel's arrangements with the Broad Institute and Cloudera bolster its existing server business, but the third deal discussed this week strengthens its position in a fairly new sector: health-tracking devices. The chipmaker is buying Basis Science for a rumored $100 million to $150 million, VentureBeat reports.

- here's the Intel-Broad release
- read Reuters' Cloudera coverage
- check out the Basis news