Ion Torrent has made some bold claims about making 10x improvements every 6 months, and so far they've kept to that schedule (albeit only over a single 6 month period). In a recent Nature paper (covered by In Sequence 7/26/11) they detailed how they could shrink their features and increase the chip size to achieve first 165M and then 1100M sensors per chip. I've used this information, along with some really useful 'real world' feedback on the 314 and 316 chip from Nick Loman's blog (@pathogenomenick), to create a speculative roadmap for how Ion Torrent might achieve the 10x improvements through the middle of 2013. Assuming they are able to achieve the higher density chips in the timeframe I've listed (I don't think any timeframe was listed in the paper), that they can extend their reads out to 1000b (which seems reasonable given where 454 is today) and that they can improve the number of 'effective beads' (based on fill efficiency, # of 'live' beads, and # of reads passing the filters), it doesn't seem too unreasonable that they might maintain their '10x improvements every 6 months' goal out through the middle of 2013.
I also took a stab at what future chips might cost based on Rothberg's statement that they would hit a $1000 genome by 1/1/13 and a $500 genome by 7/1/13 (In Sequence 6/14/11). I'm assuming 90Gb per genome and $250 in reagents per run. (The prices listed are the initial prices at launch, but they've already demonstrated that the prices for 'old' chips may come down once the new chips are released.) Everything seems pretty reasonable until you get out to the (theoretical) 324 chip at $5000. Since Rothberg only predicted a 2x drop in price/genome from 1/1/13 to 7/1/13, they're either going to charge a lot more for this chip, or the 10x improvements will have started to peter out.
It should be fun to see how accurate this roadmap is. As always, comments and criticisms are welcome.
|Chip1||Release Date||Output Spec||Sensors||Fill Eff. 2||Live Beads||Passing Filter||Read length||Calc Output||Est. Chip Price|
1The chip names 320, 322, and 324 and release dates are purely speculative. I haven't seen Ion Torrent claim a new chip every 6 months, just that there would be 10x improvements every 6 months.
2The 'fill efficiency', 'live beads' and 'passing filter' metrics for the 314 and 316 chips came from Nick Loman. The values for the other chips are pure speculation on my part. The values for the 322 and 324 chips are surely a little optimistic, but they could be counterbalanced with longer reads to achieve the same output.
3The 60M sensor chip is also pure speculation on my part. Ion Torrent didn't mention this 'intermediate' chip in the Nature paper.