14 March 2011

Ion Torrent's $1 Trillion Investment

Ion Torrent has a new video out (see link below). In addition to reminding everyone that they're building on the $1 Trillion investment made in the semiconductor industry (not exactly sure how relevant that is), they also show images of the 314 and 316 wafers. From the images, it looks like the 316 chips are roughly 5x the size of the 314 chips (~74 chips/wafer for the 316 chip vs ~350 chips/wafer for the 314 chip). That more or less fits in with the 5x increase in number of sensors/chip (1.2M vs 6M). It's impressive that this 5-fold size increase only resulted in a 2-fold price increase ($250 to $500). Their next chip, the 318 which is slated for 4Q2011, will roughly double the number of sensors to 11M while holding the price at $500. If they have to keep increasing the size of the new chips, it seems like it will be difficult to keep the price at the current level. It will be interesting to see if they start increasing sensor density rather than just chip size.

Ion Torrent's video


  1. Affymetrix made the same claim 10 y ago and it did not help them in the end!

  2. S-
    The real test will be does the monolithic optics in the new instrument for the industry leader, make the electrochemical (pH) detection in the Ion Torrent irrelevant. Signal to noise and the homopolymer resolving power may be the defining characteristic with the improvements in per base addition time-line on the competitions instruments. Your thoughts?

  3. @Nels: Right now it seems that the IT error rates aren't great. Not awful like PacBio, but not up to the level of the market leaders. They're making lots of claims about future improvements, so we'll have to see. One claim that has (nearly) come true is some fairly significant improvements on the sample prep side with the announcement of their One Touch System which streamlines (replaces?) emPCR. At the very least they're making lots of noise (and probably the focus of a number of competitor strategy meetings).