How the world’s largest and fastest supercomputers are being used to understand the coronavirus

UK scientists working to tackle the coronavirus pandemic will be granted access to some of the largest and fastest supercomputers in the world to help speed up their understanding of COVID-19.

Through the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing (HPC) consortium, researchers will work with other G7 nations battling the outbreak by sharing research and knowledge of coronavirus, and identifying potential solutions.

The US-led consortium brings together 40 members across government, industry and academia and counts Google, NASA, the US Department of Energy and IBM among its members.

The UK is the first country outside of the US to join the HPC, and will enable researchers to perform complex calculations using supercomputers that will help them understand how the disease behaves.

At the same time, the UK will contribute its own high performing computing facilities to the initiative, including those operated by the Met Office and UK Atomic Energy Authority.

It is hoped though advanced modelling of the virus, scientists will be able to speed up the development of treatments and knowledge of COVID-19 that can be shared to help tackle the pandemic.

SEE: Coronavirus: From startups to supercomputers, how tech is trying to help tackle COVID-19 (ZDNet)

UK Science Minister, Amanda Solloway, said tackling coronavirus required “a joint and strong international effort” that involved “the very best minds in science and technology” sharing research and knowledge.

“By joining this consortium, our leading researchers will be able to access some of the most advanced computers in the world to speed up their research, gain access to new developments, and share the UK’s world-class computing technologies to find a solution to this virus,” said Solloway.

The HPC consortium has already supported 59 research projects that use high performance computing platforms to gain insights from the disease and those similar to it, such as SARs.

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)  

This includes London-based AI startup Kuano, which is using the facilities to help design a new drug to defeat the virus.

The UK’s access to the High-Performance Computing consortium will be led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

UK Data Minister, John Whittingdale, said: “The UK has a longstanding reputation for innovation so it is fantastic to see our researchers and scientists working with the world’s fastest supercomputers to accelerate the treatment, research and understanding of the coronavirus.

“We are determined to use the power of data and emerging technologies to improve people’s lives and the UK will make a vital contribution to the consortium.”

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