What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: AMD, Remdesivir, Fab Spending & More

By Oliver Peckham

September 29, 2020

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.


AMD’s COVID-19 HPC Fund adds 18 institutions, five petaflops of power

In April, AMD launched its COVID-19 HPC Fund: an ongoing flow of resources and equipment to research institutions studying COVID-19 that began with an initial donation of $15 million. That fund has now grown to include 21 total institutions that are, in aggregate, the beneficiaries of over 12 petaflops of on-premises and cloud computing power. To provide these resources, AMD is working with Penguin Computing and a variety of other partners.

An animation of the coronavirus’ main protease with a bound inhibitor (click to play). Image courtesy of the researchers.

Supercomputer research aims to supercharge COVID-19 antiviral remdesivir

Remdesivir is one of the few tested and approved COVID-19 antivirals, but it’s still imperfect, achieving only modest results in improving the severity and mortality rates of COVID-19 patients. Researchers at the University of North Texas are using the Stampede2 and Frontera supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to run detailed simulations of remdesivir to understand how it works – and how to improve it.

HPE holds Q&A with Dr. Jerome Baudry on COVID-19

Jerome Baudry is the head of a team at the University of Alabama in Huntsville that is working to identify natural compounds with promise to fight COVID-19. HPE hosted a Q&A with Baudry, discussing his COVID-19 research, lessons learned, supercomputing applications and more.

Insilico launches AI-powered system for COVID-19 research

AI developer Insilico Medicine has announced the launch of “COVIDomic,” a new system for basic and clinical COVID-19 research. The system is built for “analyzing massive amounts of data – quickly – across geographies and datasets,” leveraging Intel computing power to stratify risk and severity based on metadata-rich data from patients and genomes.

BSC helps predict COVID-19 patient progression

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) has partnered with Hospital Clínic de Barcelona (HCB) to create an AI model to help doctors predict the progression of patients with COVID-19. The project (which will also be open to additional hospitals) will rely on the clinical reports of over 2,400 COVID-19 patients treated by HCB during the first peak of the pandemic.

COVID-19 drives rise in global fab equipment spending

SEMI has reported that the demand for chips – for everything ranging from communications infrastructure and gaming to personal computing and healthcare – will drive an 8 percent increase in global fab equipment spending in 2020, followed by a 13 percent increase in 2021. This increase, which is best seen in the memory sector (16 percent growth in 2020) comes on the heels of a 9 percent decrease in 2019.

University of Toronto and AMD launch supercomputing program for big data health research

The University of Toronto and AMD have partnered to create a supercomputing platform for the university’s health research on global threats, including COVID-19. The initiative (called SciNet4Health) will allow researchers and scientists to access massive databases of patient health information in a secure, privacy-friendly way. AMD is providing a petaflop of dedicated processing power for SciNet4Health through the AMD COVID-19 HPC Fund.


Do you know about COVID-19 research that should be featured on this list? If so, send us an email at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.

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