President Trump has announced the launch of a consortium with major US tech companies, with the aim of using supercomputers to combat the corona virus. The main members are the White House, the Department of Energy and IBM. Tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft are also contributing, as are a number of academic institutions.

IBM announced that a number of US national laboratories and other institutions are being deployed to deploy a total of 330 petaflops of computing power in epidemiology, bioinformatics and molecular modeling. IBM and the partners will coordinate that deployment project, in order to prioritise those projects likely to have an immediate impact on the fight against the virus when allocating that computing power. In this way, contributions that have a direct impact on combating the virus should be completed more quickly.

“How can supercomputers help us fight this virus? These high-performance computing systems allow researchers to run very large numbers of calculations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling. These experiments would take years to complete if worked by hand, or months if handled on slower, traditional computing platforms,” writes Dario Gil, IBM’s Director of Research.

Coordinated efforts

Following today’s announcement, the White House also published statements from Microsoft, Google and a number of other partners. “We know that high performance computing can reduce the time it takes to process massive data sets and perform complex simulations from days to hours,” said Mike Daniels, Vice President of Global Public Sector at Google Cloud. “We look forward to participating in this initiative (…) to make more resources available to COVID-19 researchers and to apply Google Cloud computing capabilities toward the development of potential treatments and vaccines.”

Microsoft also ‘wants to ensure that researchers working to combat COVID-19 have access to the resources they need’. The company will do this by expanding access to the Azure Cloud, creating more opportunities for researchers to collaborate with Microsoft’s data scientists.