Holistic Optimization of RNA-seq Workflow for Multi-Threaded Environments

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For many next-generation sequencing pipelines, the most computationally intensive step is the alignment of reads to a reference sequence. As a result, alignment software such as the Burrows-Wheeler Aligner (BWA) is optimized for speed and and is often executed in parallel on the cloud. However, there are other less demanding steps that can also be optimized and significantly increase the speed especially when using many threads. We demonstrate this using a Unique-molecular-identifier (UMI) RNA sequencing pipeline consisting of 3 steps: split, align, and merge. Optimization of all three steps yields a 40% increase in speed when executed using a single thread. However, when executed using 16 threads, we observe a 4-fold improvement over the original parallel implementation and more than an 8-fold improvement over the original single-threaded implementation. In contrast, optimizing only the alignment step results in just a 13% improvement over the original parallel workflow using 16 threads.

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open access

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