Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing resources to this global crisis. This column collects the biggest news about how advanced technologies are helping us fight back against COVID-19.
Hot off the heels of its Fugaku system topping the latest Top500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, Japanese science organization RIKEN has joined the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. RIKEN’s participation in the consortium will primarily revolve around COVID-19 research on Fugaku, which is currently being orchestrated by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
At the virtual ISC 2020 conference, the third session dove straight into COVID-19 research, featuring talks from RIKEN’s Satoshi Matsuoka, Peter Coveney of the Centre of Excellence in Computational Biomedicine and Argonne National Laboratory’s Rick Stevens. The three speakers highlighted novel applications of supercomputing and AI in the fight against COVID-19, including the work done by RIKEN’s chart-topping Fugaku system.
Crowdsourced supercomputing project Folding@home has announced that more than four million computers are contributing to its COVID-19 research projects. This number represents a hundredfold growth over its pre-COVID-19 contributors and includes computing contributions from organizations like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, AMD, Cisco and more.
Typical COVID-19 drug research involves combing through preexisting databases of drugs and natural compounds – but a team of researchers at the University of Washington are using supercomputers to design drugs from the ground up. The researchers start with tens of thousands of “scaffold” proteins, slowly building them into complete drug molecules and testing their affinity with the COVID-19 virus along the way.
Researchers at the Ohio Supercomputer Center combed through more than 30,000 tweets concerning COVID-19 from members of the U.S. Congress to examine their attitudes about the pandemic. “We found that once the parties started to figure out the political implications of the issue, polarization was evident in the tweets pretty quickly,” said Jon Green, co-author of the study, which used HPC resources and AI tools.
Super Micro Computer, Inc. has partnered with the Center for Scientific Computing at Goethe University Frankfurt to deliver a 4U 8 GPU A+ server with PCI-E Gen 4 and 200Gb/s networking for the center’s physics-based research on COVID-19. The system, which uses AMD GPUs, will contribute to the university’s research to simulate the spread of COVID-19.
Researchers at the UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation have expanded their Panasas-provided HPC storage with two additional petabytes of HPC storage. The new storage infrastructure is specifically aimed at supporting the “growing number of I/O-intensive tasks related to COVID-19 research.”
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