IBM's Watson supercomputer to diagnose patients

12. September 2011
Watson, IBM's game-show playing supercomputer, will soon try its hand at assisting physicians in the WellPoint health care plan in diagnosing and treating patients.

IBMIBM announced earlier this year that health care would be the first commercial application for the computer, which defeated two human champions on the popular television game show "Jeopardy!" in February. Alles zu IBM auf

IBM and WellPoint , Blue Cross, Blue Shield's largest health plan, today announced plans to jointly create applications that can be used by the health care organization's teams of physicians and other medical personnel.

WellPoint and IBM have agreed to develop Watson-based applications that can improve patient care through the use of evidence-based medicine, which uses proven best practices to standardize patient treatments. A simple example of evidence-based medicine would be to automatically place someone who has suffered a heart attack on an aspirin regimen upon leaving the hospital.

The Watson supercomputer is made up of 90 IBM Power 750 Express servers powered by 8-core processors -- four in each machine for a total of 32 processors per machine. The servers are virtualized using a Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) implementation, creating a server cluster with a total processing capacity of 80 teraflops. A teraflop is one trillion operations per second.

Working with speech and imaging recognition software provider Nuance Communications, IBM said the supercomputer can assist health care professionals in culling through gigabytes or terabytes of patient healthcare information to determine how to best treat specific illnesses.

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