IT & Networks

Trump administration enlists supercomputers to fight coronavirus

President Donald Trump announced a new public-private partnership March 22 to use supercomputers to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

The effort, called the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, is being led by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Energy, and IBM, with additional partners from industry, government and academia, according to a news release by the Department of Energy.

The consortium will allow COVID-19 researchers access to the supercomputers to “significantly advance the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the virus,” the release read.

Through the consortium, researchers can submit proposals through an online portal that will then be reviewed by a panel of scientists and computing researchers to evaluate the public health benefit. Then, computing resources will be allocated.

"The Department of Energy is home to the world’s fastest and most powerful supercomputers, and we are eager to partner with leaders across industry and the scientific community who will use our world class innovation and technology to combat COVID-19,” Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said in a statement.

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According to the release, the supercomputers available to the consortium can process “massive numbers of calculations” related to bioinformatics, epidemiology, molecular modeling and health care system response. The work will help scientists develop answers to coronavirus questions in hours or days, instead of weeks or months.

“By bringing together the world’s most advanced supercomputers and matching them with the best ideas and expertise, this consortium can drive real progress in this global fight,” said Dario Gil, director of IBM Research. “IBM is proud to have helped kick-start this important effort.”

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration is also lending its supercomputing resources to combat COVID-19, said Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the DOE’s undersecretary for nuclear security and the NNSA’s administrator.

Participants in the effort are listed below:

Industry

  • IBM
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Google Cloud
  • Microsoft

Academia

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

U.S. Department of Energy’s 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
  • NASA
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