Over 4 Million Computers Worldwide Joined [email protected] to Aid in Coronavirus Research

June 26, 2020

June 26, 2020 —  When the crowdsourced supercomputing project [email protected] first announced a shift to coronavirus research and asked for new volunteers to run its software and expand its computing capacity, organizations and citizen scientists from all walks of life heeded the call. Now, about four months later, the number of volunteers has increased a hundredfold.

Based at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the computing project simulates the movements — or folding — of proteins involved in disease. Researchers leading the effort pivoted quickly to COVID-19 and found a wealth of people eager to help. Before the switch to the novel coronavirus, about 30,000 devices were running [email protected] software. With the prospect of contributing to coronavirus research, new volunteer “folders” have boosted that number to over 4 million to date, with major companies and organizations eager to donate their own computing resources to the cause.

Organizations and technology companies such as Microsoft, Avast, Amazon Web Services, Pure Storage, AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), VMware, Cisco and Oracle are all supporting the project. Microsoft’s AI (artificial intelligence) for Health initiative has donated computing space in Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud computing system. Other contributors include CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which runs the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.

Many of the companies lending support are involved with computer technology, including those that make graphics cards for video gaming, antivirus software and cloud computing systems. But even pro sports have jumped in to help. La Liga, the Spanish professional soccer league, shifted the use of its supercomputer from a focus on catching illegal broadcasts of games — the league’s soccer matches were halted during the peak of the pandemic — to a focus on protein folding.

“We’ve got an incredible community — here and out in the world — contributing to the scientific process of understanding this virus,” said Greg Bowman, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine, who leads [email protected] “The outpouring of support has been extraordinary.”

Among those heavily involved in the project is Washington University’s Office of Information Technology, which is helping manage the [email protected] servers and has deployed the software on many desktops across campus that have been sidelined while faculty, staff and students telecommute to help stop the spread of the virus.

The project relies on the combined processing power of volunteers’ home computers to perform the billions of calculations required to simulate how proteins move. Understanding how they move — or fold into their characteristic shapes — can reveal how they work. It also can uncover ways to interfere with harmful proteins.

With the focus on COVID-19, Bowman and his collaborators are working to understand the proteins that allow the novel coronavirus to invade cells, multiply and spread. That knowledge could lead to new treatments.

“We’re basically building maps of what these viral proteins can do,” said Bowman, also an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at the School of Medicine. “If we compare this to maps of cities and towns, this map would show protein structures.

“We don’t have a way to take a satellite image of this area we would like to map,” he said. “Instead, we’re trying to build this map by having lots of people run simulations on their separate computers and send us back the data. In the map analogy, this is like having people around the globe jump in their cars and drive around their local neighborhoods and send us back their GPS coordinates at regular intervals. If we can develop detailed maps of these important viral proteins, we can identify the best drug compounds or antibodies to interfere with the virus and its ability to infect and spread.”

Calculations on this scale require tremendous computing power. With the surge of new participants, [email protected]’s distributed computing network now has more raw computing power than the world’s largest 500 traditional supercomputers combined.

[email protected] also recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) called a RAPID award, which provides funding quickly to researchers studying SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Past RAPID awards have focused on Ebola and Zika viruses and improving responses to disasters such as major hurricanes and oil spills.

In the spirit of open science and the quick dissemination of crowdsourced research about COVID-19, the [email protected] team will share their data in public databases and publish their findings on free and open-access preprint sites, such as bioRxiv.

To download the [email protected] software and start contributing to COVID-19 research, visit https://foldingathome.org/start-folding/.

About the Washington University School of Medicine 

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.


Source: Julia Evangelou Strait, Washington University School of Medicine 

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Machines, Connections, Data, and Especially People: OAC Acting Director Amy Friedlander Charts Office’s Blueprint for Innovation

August 3, 2020

The path to innovation in cyberinfrastructure (CI) will require continued focus on building HPC systems and secure connections between them, in addition to the increasingly important goals of data best practices and work Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated, analysts said the acquisition would cement Nvidia’s stat Read more…

By George Leopold

Summer Reading: Here’s a Quantum Advantage You Can Bet On!

August 3, 2020

While quantum computing researchers today vigorously chase a demonstration of a quantum advantage – an application which when run on a quantum computer provides sufficient advantage to warrant switching from a classica Read more…

By John Russell

What’s New in HPC Research: the LHC, Nuclear Reactors, Legion & More

August 1, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC Career Notes: August 2020 Edition

August 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it’s a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we’ Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

AWS Solution Channel

AWS announces the release of AWS ParallelCluster 2.8.0

AWS ParallelCluster is a fully supported and maintained open source cluster management tool that makes it easy for scientists, researchers, and IT administrators to deploy and manage High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters in the AWS cloud. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Heterogeneous Computing Gets a Code Similarity Tool

July 31, 2020

A machine programming framework for heterogeneous computing championed by Intel Corp. and university partners is built around an automated engine that analyzes code for similarities. The approach could eventually allow n Read more…

By George Leopold

Machines, Connections, Data, and Especially People: OAC Acting Director Amy Friedlander Charts Office’s Blueprint for Innovation

August 3, 2020

The path to innovation in cyberinfrastructure (CI) will require continued focus on building HPC systems and secure connections between them, in addition to the Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel’s 7nm Slip Raises Questions About Ponte Vecchio GPU, Aurora Supercomputer

July 30, 2020

During its second-quarter earnings call, Intel announced a one-year delay of its 7nm process technology, which it says it will create an approximate six-month shift for its CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. The primary issue is a defect mode in the 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

PEARC20 Plenary Introduces Five Upcoming NSF-Funded HPC Systems

July 30, 2020

Five new HPC systems—three National Science Foundation-funded “Capacity” systems and two “Innovative Prototype/Testbed” systems—will be coming onlin Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

Nvidia Dominates Latest MLPerf Training Benchmark Results

July 29, 2020

MLPerf.org released its third round of training benchmark (v0.7) results today and Nvidia again dominated, claiming 16 new records. Meanwhile, Google provided e Read more…

By John Russell

$39 Billion Worldwide HPC Market Faces 3.7% COVID-related Drop in 2020

July 29, 2020

Global HPC market revenue reached $39 billion in 2019, growing a healthy 8.2 percent over 2018, according to the latest analysis from Intersect360 Research. A 3 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Agenting Change: PEARC20 Keynote Encourages Cultural Change to Make Tech Better, More Diverse

July 29, 2020

The tech world will need to become more diverse if it is to thrive and survive, said Cherri Pancake, director of the Northwest Alliance for Computational Resear Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

In Big Win for COVID-19 Research, Neocortix Brings Arm Support to [email protected], [email protected]

July 28, 2020

Normally, Neocortix offers distributed cloud computing for its clients by way of PhonePaycheck, an app that pays users in exchange for the idle processing time Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer-Powered Research Uncovers Signs of ‘Bradykinin Storm’ That May Explain COVID-19 Symptoms

July 28, 2020

Doctors and medical researchers have struggled to pinpoint – let alone explain – the deluge of symptoms induced by COVID-19 infections in patients, and what Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Intel’s 7nm Slip Raises Questions About Ponte Vecchio GPU, Aurora Supercomputer

July 30, 2020

During its second-quarter earnings call, Intel announced a one-year delay of its 7nm process technology, which it says it will create an approximate six-month shift for its CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. The primary issue is a defect mode in the 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

Joliot-Curie Supercomputer Used to Build First Full, High-Fidelity Aircraft Engine Simulation

July 14, 2020

When industrial designers plan the design of a new element of a vehicle’s propulsion or exterior, they typically use fluid dynamics to optimize airflow and in Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

John Martinis Reportedly Leaves Google Quantum Effort

April 21, 2020

John Martinis, who led Google’s quantum computing effort since establishing its quantum hardware group in 2014, has left Google after being moved into an advi Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 “Accelerator Optimized” VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by the HGX A100 16-GPU platform, which combines two HGX A100 8-GPU baseboards using... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This