A private-public consortium of science and technology experts are working together to put high-performance computing resources to work to advance scientific discovery of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Announced Monday by the White House, the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium is a partnership of federal government, tech industry, and academic leaders whose goal is to stop the virus.1 

“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,” said Michael Kratsios, US Chief Technology Officer, in a press release. 1

The consortium is being led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the US Department of Energy, and IBM. Other members of the consortium include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, as well as 5 laboratories within the US Department of Energy. Consortium members are volunteering free compute time and other resources to the partnership.2

According to the White House, the sophisticated computing systems the consortium is using are capable of processing massive amounts of calculations related to bioinformatics, epidemiology, and molecular modeling.1,2 These systems will help scientists develop answers to complex questions about COVID-19 in a matter of hours or days, instead of weeks or months.1

One example of an enlisted computer is Rensselaer’s AiMOS. One of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, according to the institute, AiMOS is capable of performing 8 quadrillion calculations per second.3

“In order to combat the devastating effects of this pandemic, we must be able to fully grasp the complexities and interconnectedness of biological systems and epidemiological data, as researchers work to develop therapeutic interventions and address gaps in our knowledge,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, in a prepared statement.1,3 “This effort requires expertise, collaboration, and the ability to process incredible amounts of data, and Rensselaer is offering all 3 at this critical time. In particular, the ability to model at very large scales requires the unique capabilities of AiMOS.”

Dario Gil, director of IBM Research, said the consortium has an opportunity to drive real progress in mitigating COVID-19 by bringing together the world’s most advanced supercomputers and matching them with the ideas and expertise of top scientists.

“Accelerating the process of discovery to unlock treatments and a cure for COVID-19 is of vital importance to us all,” Gil said, in a prepared statement.1

Researchers are invited to submit COVID-19 related research proposals to the consortium via an online portal. Proposals will be reviewed and matched with computing resources from 1 of the partner institutions. An expert panel of top scientists and computing researchers will work with proposers to quickly assess the public health benefit of the work and to coordinate allocation of the group’s powerful computing assets.2

The consortium is open to additional members. Organizations interested in joining the consortium and offering access to their computational resources in support of the COVID-19 project should email the consortium.2


REFERENCES
  1. White House Announces New Partnership to Unleash U.S. Supercomputing Resources to Fight COVID-19 [news release]. Washington, DC; March 23, 2020: White House website. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/white-house-announces-new-partnership-unleash-u-s-supercomputing-resources-fight-covid-19/ Accessed March 23, 2020.
  2. The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. COVID-19 HPC Consortium website. https://covid19-hpc.mybluemix.net/ Accessed March 23, 2020.
  3. Rensselaer Offers AiMOS Supercomputing Capabilities to Battle COVID-19 [news release]. Troy, NY; March 22, 2020: Resselaer News website. https://news.rpi.edu/content/2020/03/22/rensselaer-offers-aimos-supercomputing-capabilities-battle-covid-19 Accessed March 23, 2020.