NCI, Pawsey join US-led compute consortium for COVID-19 research

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NCI, Pawsey join US-led compute consortium for COVID-19 research
NCI's Gadi. Source: NCI

Making HPC capacity available.

Australia’s two largest high performance computing (HPC) centres have joined a US-led consortium to provide governments, industry and academics the computing resources they need to support COVID-19 research.

The National Computing Infrastructure (NCI) and Pawsey Supercomputing Centre were named by the White House Office of Science and Technology as partners in the initiative spearheaded by the office, IBM, and the US Department of Energy.

Over 40 members have already joined the consortium, bringing 6.8 million CPU cores, 50,000 GPUs, 165,000 nodes and 600 petaflops of compute power to 78 active projects.

Pawsey and NCI have already offered Australian researchers studying the novel coronavirus and potential vaccines with access to their combined resources, with three teams accessing 40 million hours of compute on NCI’s Gadi supercomputer and a further five teams accessing multifunctional cloud computing capabilities on Pawsey’s Nimbus.

Researchers using the two facilities are examining a number of leads, including investigations into virus lineage, potential treatments, and the protein behaviour of the virus.

NCI director, Professor Sean Smith, said that projects benefitting from the Australian HPC COVID-19 rapid response have the added benefit of working with compute providers already well-versed in their field of work.

“Vaccine investigations and protein analysis have formed part of NCI's history, laying the groundwork for some of our major research user groups to rapidly pivot in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Smith said.

“The value of the national computational infrastructure at NCI and Pawsey to support this research is clear as we harness our knowledge and experience to look for new answers.”

Pawsey director, Mark Stickells, added that the global threat of the virus “demands that national and international experts work together to understand the virus, mitigate its spread and develop a vaccine”.

“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," he said.

“Australian government investment in both centres is vital to our efforts and supports both centres in joining this international HPC consortium.”

Pawsey and NCI join the international consortium as regional ‘Collaborating Initiatives’, a group which also includes the European Union’s Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE).

Members of the US COVID-19 HPC Consortium include IBM, Amazon Web Services, AMD, Dell, Google Cloud, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft, NVIDIA and Intel.

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