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AWS Joins Cloud Giants To Tackle Coronavirus with Supercomputers

A government-backed research initiative is enlisting the help of cloud heavyweights such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft in the effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The new COVID-19 HPC Consortium aims to tap high-performance computing (HPC) resources to advance research around the coronavirus pandemic. Besides AWS and Microsoft, its members include IBM and Google, as well as federal agencies and major universities.

On its site, which is housed on IBM's Bluemix platform, the group describes itself as "a unique private-public effort spearheaded by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Energy and IBM to bring together federal government, industry, and academic leaders who are volunteering free compute time and resources on their world-class machines."

Computing resources used in the effort range from some of the biggest supercomputers available to small clusters of computing power. The resources are available via an online portal to researchers, who can apply for a review to determine potential resources available from one of the partner institutions.

"Fighting COVID-19 will require extensive research in areas like bioinformatics, epidemiology, and molecular modeling to understand the threat we're facing and form strategies to address it," the consortium said. "This work demands a massive amount of computational capacity. The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium helps aggregate computing capabilities from the world's most powerful and advanced computers to help COVID-19 researchers execute complex computational research programs to help fight the virus."

The project is supplying researchers with access to parts of 16 supercomputing systems, providing more than 330 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores and 34,000 GPUs.

"We're proud to support this critical work and stand ready with the compute power of AWS to help accelerate research and development efforts," said AWS executive Teresa Carlson in a news release. "Working together, government, business, and academic leaders can utilize the power of the cloud to advance the pace of scientific discovery and innovation, and help combat the COVID-19 virus."

Other industry efforts to help out with addressing the pandemic include the AI-powered COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) of scholarly literature about COVID-19, the $20 million AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative to develop better COVID-19 tests, SARS-CoV-2, and the Coronavirus group, requested by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"This dataset is intended to mobilize researchers to apply recent advances in natural language processing to generate new insights in support of the fight against this infectious disease," the group's site says. "The corpus will be updated weekly as new research is published in peer-reviewed publications and archival services like bioRxiv, medRxiv, and others."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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