There has understandably been a lot of excitement around Illumina’s announcement of the new sequencing platforms they just added to their lineup – the HiSeq X Ten and the NextSeq 500. Many are now wondering what it means for them. Be sure to check out the AllSeq NGS Knowledge Bank for a quick overview and a summary of all the instrument specifications.
If you’ve signed up to our free Sequencing Marketplace, there’s nothing to worry about. Our providers are busy getting these machines installed, so our users will have access as soon as they’re available. For those who prefer to own their own machines, they need to decide which they should buy or, if they already own a machine, should they upgrade?
HiSeq X Ten
The HiSeq X Ten finally delivers on the promise (made by others) of the $1000 genome (although there’s plenty of room to argue if this is really a $1000 genome and if that watermark is even that important). Illumina launched the HiSeq X in a manner equal parts brilliant and frustrating (depending on whether you’re an investor or a customer). First, the minimum order is for 10 units, making the buy-in price $10M. Second, via their control over the instrument and an agreement customers have to sign, the HiSeq X machines can only be used for human whole genomes (no other species, no exomes, transcriptomes, methylomes, etc.). This does two things: First, it opens up the market for population-level studies (without affecting the rest of the market that Illumina already owns). Second, it’s a figurative poke in the eye of BGI/Complete Genomics as this is aimed directly at the market that CG was built for.
There’s been a growing gap in Illumina’s sequencing portfolio. The MiSeq is good for quick little experiments that don’t need too many reads and the HiSeq is good for cranking out lots of genomes and exomes. But medium sized projects didn’t fit either too well. Generally they were run on a HiSeq, but they would often have to wait for similar companion projects to help fill up the flow cell. In theory the GAIIx could have filled this gap, but that platform hasn’t seen any significant updates since the HiSeq came out.
The NextSeq 500 fills that gap by combining the output (almost, sort of) of the HiSeq with the footprint and ease of use of the MiSeq. It also speeds things up and slims down the optics requirements by using a clever 2-dye chemistry instead of the more standard 4-dye chemistry. Just like the HiSeq X, this new platform accomplishes two things for Illumina: First, it nicely fills that gap between the MiSeq and the HiSeq. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it beats Ion Torrent’s Proton PII chip to the punch. Illumina appears to be asking “Why wait for the Proton PII, which is already so far behind schedule, when you can buy the NextSeq today?”
Welcome to the scrap heap!
In all the excitement over Illumina’s new instruments, it may have been missed that the following instruments have now been retired:
- HiSeq 2000
- HiSeq 1000
- HiSeq 1500
No word on how long they’ll be supported in the field, but the clock must be ticking.