High Tech ‘Super Weapon’ Deployed In Virus War

The White House unveiled a powerful new high technology “super weapon” to be used in the war against the 2019-nCoV virus. It’s already produced results leading toward an effective treatment. The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium is hooking some of the worlds most powerful super computers together into one gigantic CPU.

A high tech super weapon

The White House announced on Sunday that the administration is bringing together some of the biggest names in computer technology to form a COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. The Office of Science and Technology Policy got together with the Department of Energy and offered some of the worlds most powerful computers to virus researchers for the duration of the crisis.

IBM was one of the first on board with the new project, getting the ball rolling last week to unleash “supercomputing resources that will massively increase the speed and capacity of coronavirus-related research.” The goal is to speed production of new treatments and a vaccine or cure. IBM’s research director, Dario Gil, explains, “Those are the areas we’ll be looking at. We’re going to bring an unprecedented amount of computing power” to do it.

A total of “16 supercomputing systems from
IBM, national laboratories, several universities, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others” will be wired together. The researchers “whose projects are approved
by the consortium’s leadership board,” will be able to log in “via remote access.” The online portal was expected to be up and running Sunday evening.

Saving years of time

The network of powerful computers will be able to do complex calculations which would bog ordinary machines down for years. Typically, each machine does its own calculations internally. By linking up the nation’s major high performance hardware, the independent units “can work together and pass calculations between one another to process information more quickly.”

The machines are especially useful for “conducting research in areas like epidemiology and molecular modeling.” All of the “what if” scenarios can be explored to see what outcome develops. Not only that, because “the systems
mirror the interconnectivity that exists in nature,” they are even more powerful, Gil asserts.

In order to make sure that the machines are being used at peak efficiency, “top computational scientists” will be working in support roles to advise the researchers on the features and limitations of the network. All of the “services and computing power will be provided for free to researchers”

It’s nice to see everyone on the same side for a change. Gil points out, “We’re bringing together expertise, even across competitors, to work on this. We think it’s important to bring a sense of community and to bring science and capability against this goal.”

The potential has already been revealed. IBM’s supercomputer which lives in University of Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, screened through “8,000 compounds to identify the 77 most likely to bind to the main ‘spike’ protein in the coronavirus and render it incapable of attaching to host cells in the human body.” Those 77 can now be tested further instead of having to wade through all 8,000.

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