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Gizmorama - June 22, 2016

Good Morning,

The first article I have for you today is simply making a case for technology over drugs. This could change the outlook of health care permanently.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Device may be better than drugs for irregular heartbeat --*

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A device was shown to be more cost-effective than medication at preventing blood clots during irregular heartbeat, and also may prove to me more effective in longer-term studies, according to researchers.

Implanting The Watchman device in the hearts of patients with irregular heartbeat was more cost effective than medications such as warfarin, researchers at Yale University report, further suggesting the device could prove to be preferable clinically.

The Watchman is implanted in the opening of the left atrial appendage of the heart, where a thin layer of tissue grows over it, preventing blood clots from forming during an irregular heart rhythm, called atrial fibrillation -- which also prevents clots from circulating in the bloodstream and causing a stroke.

While warfarin, a blood thinner, is commonly used to prevent the formation of blood clots, the drug increases the risk of bleeding and adverse health events.

Researchers say eliminating this risk, which would have to be established with longer-term studies of patients, could make the device preferable to the medication.

The researchers conducted two studies, published in the journal Circulation, Percutaneous Closure of the Left Atrial Appendage Versus Warfarin Therapy for Prevention of Stroke in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation, or PROTECT AF, and Prospective Randomized Evaluation of the Watchman LAA Closure Device in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation, or PREVAIL, finding varied but encouraging results.

In the PROTECT AF study, the researchers found The Watchman was more cost-effective than using warfarin or another similar drug called dabigatran, but in the PREVAIL study the device was more costly and less effective than the drugs.

"What we know is that the PROTECT AF trial enrolled more patients and has longer follow-up at this time and this allows greater statistical certainty," Dr. James Freeman, an assistant professor of cardiology at Yale University, said in a press release. "Based on that, the study may provide more certainty in terms of cost-effectiveness."

Cost aside, however, the researchers say longer term studies of the device are needed to determine if it is more effective than medication for managing the condition.

*-- World's fastest supercomputer powered by Chinese chip technology --*

FRANKFURT, Germany - The reign of American-made semiconductors may be over. China recently unveiled the world's fastest supercomputer. Unlike China's previous supercomputers, this one is powered by Chinese chip technology.

Sunway TaihuLight, developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology, is powered by a ShenWei SW26010 processor, manufactured at the National High Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, in Shanghai. The computer is located at the government-funded National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China.

Sunway TaihuLight took the top spot on the new list of the world's fastest computers. The list is compiled biannually by TOP500, a research organization dedicated to tracking advances in supercomputer technology.

"As the first number one system of China that is completely based on homegrown processors, the Sunway TaihuLight system demonstrates the significant progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation systems," Guangwen Yang, director of the National Supercomputing Center, told TOP500 News.

"It's not based on an existing architecture. They built it themselves," Jack Dongarra, a professor of computer scientists at the University of Tennessee, told Bloomberg News. "This is a system that has Chinese processors."

Dongarra created the software, a linear algebra algorithm called LINPACK, TOP500 uses to measure the speed of supercomputers.

Sunway TaihuLight earned a LINPACK score of 93 petaflops -- three times faster than the previous fastest, Tianhe-2, a Chinese supercomputer powered by American-made Intel processors. The record-breaking score means Sunway TaihuLight can process 93 quadrillion calculations per second.

Sunway TaihuLight has 40,960 nodes, each with a SW26010 chip, giving the supercomputer 125 peak petaflops across its more than 10 million cores.

Dongarra says Sunway TaihuLight's architecture is impressive. The complex simulations the supercomputer is currently running for research in the fields of weather modeling and climate science, Dongarra told TOP500, are proof the machine isn't just a stunt computer designed to notch a record-breaking LINPACK score.

The Chinese computer engineers responsible for Sunway TaihuLight are scheduled to formally present their new supercomputer on Tuesday at the International Supercomputing Conference, currently being held in Frankfurt, Germany.


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