In a bid to stop the COVID-19 from further spreading and to find a cure for the infected, IBM has joined hands with the White House to provide a supercomputing power that will enable researchers to understand the virus better. In collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the US Department of Energy, IBM has launched a COVID-19 high-performance computing consortium that will have 16 systems, such as the IBM’s Summit supercomputer which offers more than 330 petaflops, 7,77,500 CPU cores and 34,000 GPUs as stated by the director of IBM research Dario Gill.
The high-performance computers will allow researchers to run large numbers of calculations in epidemiology, bioinformatics and molecular modelling which would usually take years to run on a traditional computing platform. The consortium will also welcome and evaluate project proposals from around the world. Furthermore, it will make the supercomputing capacity available to those projects which are likely to create a substantial positive impact against the pandemic.
The summit is already being used by ORNL to fight off the deadly virus that has infected more than 2,94,000 cases worldwide. Through the supercomputing capability at hand, researchers have been able to identify 77 small-molecule drug compounds which can be studied further against the SAR-CoV-2 coronavirus, likely to be responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak. The supercomputer has simulated more than 8,000 compounds in order to screen those that are likely to bind the main “spike” protein of the virus, rendering it unable to infect host cells.
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The pool of consortium includes the supercomputing capacity of Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Argonne National Lab, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Sandia National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as well.