Published: Tue, March 24, 2020
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

White House teams up with IBM for coronavirus effort

White House teams up with IBM for coronavirus effort

The President added that other companies, which include Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, and a number of academic institutions, will also contribute a lot of different things to the consortium.

According to Dr. Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research, researchers will have access to 16 supercomputers in total, offering a combined 330 petaflops of processing power.

Covid-19 is believed to have originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan. These high-performance computing systems allow researchers to perform a large number 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".

The consortium will aggregate computing capabilities from some of the world's most powerful supercomputers and allocate resources to researchers looking to better understand the new virus now wreaking havoc across the globe.

PM addresses Canadians: You are not invincible
As of 1800 GMT Monday, Canadian public health authorities reported more than 2,000 cases of coronavirus , including 24 deaths. While we are not yet in as strict of a lockdown as other countries, rumours of stepped up measures continue to swirl.

Google, which is part of the consortium, already launched its own portal dedicated to information about COVID-19, as the virus becomes the most searched on topic. In other words, the organization's computational capacity will be directed toward finding new treatments or a potential cure for COVID-19.

"Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been working closely with governments in the USA and worldwide to find all available options to put our technology and expertise to work to help organisations be resilient and adapt to the consequences of the pandemic, and to accelerate the process of discovery and enable the scientific and medical community to develop treatments and ultimately a cure". IBM shared that its Summit machine, which it calls "the most powerful supercomputer on the planet", has been used to help researchers identify the molecular compounds that have the best chance of binding to, and therefore neutralizing, the spikes used by the coronavirus to infect healthy cells.

Similarly, Microsoft's global head for its AI for Health Program, John Kahan, notes that Microsoft wants to "make sure researchers working to combat COVID-19 have access to the tools they need" by expanding access to its Azure cloud and by creating more opportunities for researchers to collaborate with the company's data scientists. Hopefully, the tech industry's efforts to speed up the process will lessen the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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