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IBM, Amazon, Microsoft and Google mobilise supercomputing and cloud resources to fight Covid-19

Written by Mon 23 Mar 2020

Tech giants pool supercomputing and cloud resources to support novel coronavirus research

IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are joining forces with the White House, the US Department of Energy, and other US federal agencies to deliver supercomputing power and public cloud resources to scientists and researchers working to address the novel coronavirus global pandemic.

As part of the newly-announced Covid-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium, the companies are making 330 petaflops of performance available to researchers attempting to understand the virus and form treatments that can be used for potential vaccines.

“How can supercomputers help us fight this virus? These high-performance computing systems allow researchers to run very large numbers of calculations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling,” Dario Gil, director of IBM Research, wrote in a blog post.

“These experiments would take years to complete if worked by hand, or months if handled on slower, traditional computing platforms. By pooling the supercomputing capacity under a consortium of partners … we can offer extraordinary supercomputing power to scientists, medical researchers and government agencies as they respond to and mitigate this global emergency.”

Capacity will be harnessed from IBM’s Summit supercomputer, housed at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as several systems operated by the US National Nuclear Security Administration. NASA, the National Science Foundation, MIT, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and HPE are also offering their HPC and AI resources.

Cloud rivals Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services are also opening up their infrastructure and cloud services to researchers.

Microsoft is providing grants to researchers via its AI for Health program and the program’s data scientists will be available to collaborate on consortium projects. Meanwhile, AWS has offered a whopping $20 million in cloud credits to coronavirus research projects.

“We’re proud to support this critical work and stand ready with the compute power of AWS to help accelerate research and development efforts,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector at AWS. “Working together, government, business, and academic leaders can utilize the power of the cloud to advance the pace of scientific discovery and innovation, and help combat the COVID-19 virus.”

Scientists and medical researchers seeking to access the consortium’s compute and cloud power can submit a proposal on NSF’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (Xsede) website. The proposals will be reviewed by a committee of scientists and computing researchers to evaluate their public health benefits. Projects that can ensure rapid results will be prioritised, the consortium said.

IBM’s Summit has already been used by scientists this month to simulate molecular reactions that could be used to stop Covid-19 from infecting host cells, a crucial step toward finding a vaccine.

Written by Mon 23 Mar 2020


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