IBM and White House to deploy supercomputer power to fight coronavirus outbreak

The International Business Machines (IBM) and the White House have announced the launch of the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium an initiative to increase access to high-performance computing for groups researching and fighting the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

This initiative will help researchers worldwide to access the world’s most powerful high-performance computing resources that can advance the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the virus.



IBM has teamed up with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Energy to find a way to fight and stop the spread of COVID-19 across the globe.

“America is coming together to fight COVID-19, and that means unleashing the full capacity of our world-class supercomputers to rapidly advance scientific research for treatments and a vaccine. ”




”We thank the private sector and academic leaders who are joining the federal government as part of the Trump Administration’s whole-of-America response,” said Michael Kratsios, U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

The supercomputing power will be available to help researchers develop predictive models to analyze how the disease is progressing as well as model new potential therapies or a possible vaccine.




The working group also includes Amazon and Microsoft. Through the consortium, researchers will have access to 16 systems with more than 330 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores, and 34,000 GPUs & growing.

The system will harness 16 supercomputing systems from IBM, national laboratories, several universities, Amazon, Google Microsoft, and others. Computing power will be provided via remote access to researchers whose projects are approved by the consortium’s leadership board.

This will be comprised of tech industry leaders and White House and Energy Department officials. The group plans to begin accepting research proposals through an online portal. Supercomputers can solve calculations and run experiments that, if done on traditional computing systems, would take months or years.

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

The consortium will also connect researchers with top computational scientists to ensure the machines are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Services and computing power will be provided for free.

“We’re bringing together expertise … even across competitors, to work on this,” Gil said. “We think it’s important to bring a sense of community and to bring science and capability against this goal. These systems are some of the most in-demand scientific and computational systems that we have.”

IBM noted Summit, its most powerful supercomputer has already been used by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee to screen 8,000 compounds in an effort to stop the virus.

As a result, researchers were able to recommend 77 molecule drug compounds that have promise and can now be tested. The consortium is already accepting and evaluating proposals from researchers and will provide supercomputing access to those efforts that make a difference immediately.

Other partners in the new consortium include NASA, MIT, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, and the National Science Foundation.

“America is coming together to fight COVID-19, and that means unleashing the full capacity of our world-class supercomputers to rapidly advance scientific research for treatments and a vaccine,” Michael Kratsios, Chief Technology Officer for the United States, said in an emailed statement.

“We thank the private sector and academic leaders who are joining the federal government as part of the Trump Administration’s whole-of-America response.”

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