Illumina is currently in the midst of the MiSeq sequencer updates. The software update, the new flowcells and the new sequencing chemistry enable runs with outputs of around 8 Gbp and 250 bp read length. The first updates have reached Europe just recently and only a few days ago our own MiSeq has received the update.
That’s not the end of the story for Illumina. Just a week ago, they already have announced the next update. In the second half of 2013 Illumina is planning to offer another MiSeq update that will increase the output to 15 Gbp. They achieve this tremendous output for their benchtop device by increasing the read length to 300 bp and resolving about 25 million clusters on the flowcell.
Considering the intense competition with Life Tech’s Proton and Ion Torrent sequencer, Illumina needs to steadily improve the specs of their sequencing devices. In March, Life Tech plans to increase the output of their Proton sequencer to around 36 Gbp. That’s still a bit more than the new MiSeq upgrade can deliver, but one also has to evaluate the differences in the read length. While the MiSeq will be able to produce 300 bp reads soon thereafter, the Ion Proton is generating reads from 100 to 150 bp. And the difference is even more remarkably when the sequencing on the MiSeq is performed with the paired-end module – an approach that is not possible with Life Techs devices. By using library insert sizes of around 450 – 500 bp, the two overlapping reads can generate a single consensus read of about that size.
In my opinion the Illumina MiSeq is at the forefront of the race and if Illumina’s plan works out they will be there in 2013, too. But we all know how short-lived the NGS market is. So let’s see what’s coming!