David Dooling, writing at PolITgenomics, brings word of the announcement of a new generation of SOLiD sequencing machines. The statistics aren’t quite as impressive as the Illumina HiSeq 2000 announced a couple of weeks ago, but it will be cheaper per gigabase of sequence.
As long as SOLiD sequencing can keep giving Illumina a run for its money, the price of sequencing is going to keep dropping, and the R&D departments of both companies will be working round the clock to keep the improvements coming (SOLiD is already promising upgrades that will triple the amount of sequence generated per run, while cutting the cost of each run by half (6x reduction in cost/GB of sequence)… by the end of this year.)
People talk about Moore’s law as saying computers double in speed every 18 months.* I’ve heard estimates that the cost of sequencing is dropping as much at 90% per year. To get a sense of how impressive that is, if those rates of growth keep up, after nine years, computers would be 64 times as fast, and sequencing costs per base pair would be less than one-billionth (that is 1/1,000,000,000) what they are today.
*This isn’t what was actually stated as Moore’s law, and even if it was, the speed of computer processors stopped growing some time ago, with the extra transistors (the thing actually predicted to increase by Moore’s law), getting devoted to additional cores instead. So todays computers can’t do a single task faster than last years computers, but they can do more things quickly at once (depending on the task programmers can down get around this by breaking individual tasks down into smaller pieces that can each be worked on by a different processor core at the same time). Read more on wikipedia.