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Universite de Montreal Researchers Simulate World's Largest Heart Model Using SGI Technology
Date:1/15/2008

el code for research and not really developing it further, but after the success of the trial I am now thinking about improving the model, making it much larger and much more detailed, and attacking other diseases that we couldn't handle before," said Dr. Potse. "It's a very complicated model and it's much, much easier to write parallel programs on a shared memory machine. The Altix delivers fast processing performance for our application needs; not only because of the shared memory, but also due to the very high bandwidth interconnect. That's good for the kind of mathematical equations I'm solving and saves me a lot of time."

Potse simulated 5 milliseconds of activation in a tissue block that included some properties of a real heart, such as fiber running in different directions. The simulation solved a system of 2 billion equations a dozen times. The test took two hours, which Potse describes as short for achieving the desired results. A full heartbeat, he says, would take two weeks, and they cannot claim use of the entire machine for that length of time right now.

"This was a test to see if the simulation works and to determine that, if we have a much bigger machine, our software will be able to run more efficiently," added Potse. "This capability is really for the future when we can use this size of machine on a regular basis, but with the Altix system we have made the heart model of the future today."

With heart disease one of the leading causes of death in the Western world, discovering the electrical "triggers" of the various kinds of heart disease could lead to earlier diagnosis and new treatment breakthroughs. For example, there are inheritable diseases such as "Brugada syndrome" and "Long-QT syndrome" which can cause sudden death in young, otherwise healthy people, and there are typical changes in the ECG that allow doctors to diagnose these diseases. In order to understand what the mechanisms of the particular disease are, the heart m
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