COVID-19 HPC Consortium masses supercomputing resources against virus

COVID-19 HPC Consortium masses supercomputing resources against virus

Market news |
By Rich Pell

The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium will bring forth an unprecedented amount of computing power — 16 systems with more than 330 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores, 34,000 GPUs, and counting — to help researchers everywhere better understand COVID-19, its treatments, and potential cures. By pooling the supercomputing capacity under a consortium of partners, says the company, the effort can offer extraordinary supercomputing power to scientists, medical researchers and government agencies as they respond to and mitigate the global emergency.

“These high-performance computing systems allow researchers to run very large numbers of calculations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling,” says Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research. “These experiments would take years to complete if worked by hand, or months if handled on slower, traditional computing platforms.”

As an example of the potential, says the company, its Summit supercomputer – a supercomputer developed by IBM for use at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and currently considered the world’s fastest supercomputer – has already enabled researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee to screen 8,000 compounds to find those that are most likely to bind to the main “spike” protein of the coronavirus, rendering it unable to infect host cells. As a result, the researchers were able to recommend 77 promising small-molecule drug compounds that could now be experimentally tested.

Consortium partners currently include the following:


  • IBM
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Google Cloud
  • Microsoft


  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • University of California, San Diego

Department of Energy National Laboratories

  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Sandia National Laboratories

Federal Agencies

  • National Science Foundation
    • Pittsburg Supercomputing Center
  • NASA

The Consortium welcomes additional members who are capable of contributing significant compute resources to the pool. Researchers are invited to submit COVID-19 related research proposals to the consortium via an online COVID-19 HPC Consortium Request portal, which will then be reviewed for matching with computing resources from one of the partner institutions.

An expert panel comprising top scientists and computing researchers will work with proposers to assess the public health benefit of the work, with emphasis on projects that can ensure rapid results.


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Machine learning speeds search for unknown viruses
COVID-19 white paper looks at impact on key technologies, end markets
Nvidia platform brings AI to next-gen medical instruments


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