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A Volunteer Supercomputer Team is Hunting for Covid Clues

Published by Slashdot on Mon, 13 Jul 2020


The world's fastest computer is now part of "a vast supercomputer-powered search for new findings pertaining to the novel coronavirus' spread" and "how to effectively treat and mitigate it," according to an emerging tech journalist at Nextgov. It's part of a consortium currently facilitating over 65 active research projects, for which "Dozens of national and international members are volunteering free compute time...providing at least 485 petaflops of capacity and steadily growing, to more rapidly generate new solutions against COVID-19." "What started as a simple concept has grown to span three continents with over 40 supercomputer providers," Dario Gil, director of IBM Research and consortium co-chair, told Nextgov last week. "In the face of a global pandemic like COVID-19, hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event, the speed at which researchers can drive discovery is a critical factor in the search for a cure and it is essential that we combine forces...." [I]ts resources have been used to sort through billions of molecules to identify promising compounds that can be manufactured quickly and tested for potency to target the novel coronavirus, produce large data sets to study variations in patient responses, perform airflow simulations on a new device that will allow doctors to use one ventilator to support multiple patientsand more. The complex systems are powering calculations, simulations and results in a matter of days that several scientists have noted would take a matter of months on traditional computers. The Undersecretary for Science at America's Energy Department said "What's really interesting about this from an organizational point of view is that it's basically a volunteer organization." The article identifies some of the notable participants:IBM was part of the joint launch with America's Office of Science and Technology Policy and its Energy Department.The chief of NASA's Advanced Supercomputing says they're "making the full reserve portion of NASA supercomputing resources available to researchers working on the COVID-19 response, along with providing our expertise and support to port and run their applications on NASA systems."Amazon Web Services "saw a clear opportunity to bring the benefits of cloud... to bear in the race for treatments and a vaccine," according to a company executive.Japan's Fugaku"which surpassed leading U.S. machines on the Top 500 list of global supercomputers in late June"also joined the consortium in June.Other consortium members:Google CloudMicrosoftMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteThe National Science FoundationArgonne, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Sandia National laboratories.National Center for Atmospheric Research's Wyoming Supercomputing CenterAMDNVIDIADell Technologies. ("The company is now donating cycles from the Zenith supercomputer and other resources.")Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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