Australia joins White House-led COVID-19 supercomputing research group

Among other things, researchers are investigating virus lineages, potential treatments, and COVID-19 protein behaviour.

Australia's Pawsey Supercomputing Centre has announced joining the high-performance computing (HPC) fight against COVID-19.

The High Performance Computing Consortium, comprised of government, industry, and academia, is led by the White House Office of Science and Technology, alongside the US Department of Energy and IBM. The mission of the consortium is to use the world's most powerful supercomputing resources in support of COVID-19 research.

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Those involved are volunteering free compute time and resources on their respective machines.

There are 43 members working currently on 78 active projects across 500,000 GPUs and 600 petaflops of compute power.

Joining the group as a collaborating initiative, known as the Australian HPC COVID-19 Rapid Response (NCI Australia and Pawsey Supercomputing Centre), the Australian research facilities join the European Union's Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) as an international affiliated initiative.

See also: Coronavirus: From startups to supercomputers, how tech is trying to help tackle COVID-19

The two Australian HPC centres joined efforts to open a rapid response call for COVID-19 researchers in April. Pawsey said time is being made available on the Southern Hemisphere's fastest supercomputer, NCI's Gadi, which is housed at the Australian National University, and Pawsey's newly deployed cloud infrastructure, Nimbus, which is managed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Pawsey said three teams from across Australia are accessing 40 million hours of compute time on Gadi, along with five teams accessing multifunctional cloud capabilities using Nimbus.

Among other things, researchers are investigating virus lineages, potential treatments, and COVID-19 protein behaviour.

"The global threat of COVID-19 demands that national and international experts work together to understand the virus, mitigate its spread, and develop a vaccine," Pawsey Supercomputing Centre director Mark Stickells said.

"Pawsey's collaboration with NCI brings Australian supercomputing expertise and infrastructure together to support advanced analysis and simulation, accelerating the work of our national research organisations and their partners."

In addition to IBM, industry consortium members include Amazon Web Services, AMD, BP, D. E. Shaw Research, Dell Technologies, Google Cloud, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Intel.

11 academia partners are based in the US, with the UK Digital Research Infrastructure, the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre, and the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing, Center for High Performance Computing also jumping on board.

The US National Science Foundation and NASA are also members, as well as the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information and Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and its RIKEN Center for Computational Science.

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