AMD picks recipients of HPC systems for COVID-19 research

Written by Jennifer Allen

June 2, 2020 | 11:00

Tags: #covid-19 #hpc-system #mit #nyu #research #rice-university

Companies: #amd

AMD has announced it's picked the first universities to be recipients of high-performance computing systems as part of the AMD HPC Fund for COVID-19 research.

Those lucky institutions are New York University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Rice University in Houston, Texas. AMD also announced it will contribute a cloud-based system powered by EPYC and Radeon Instinct processors located on-site at Penguin Computing. Combined, it works out as a donation of 7 petaflops of compute power which should go some way to helping researchers working on understanding and eliminating COVID-19. 

It's expected that the new compute capacity will be used to tackle various areas surrounding the pandemic including genomics to understand how the virus works, vaccine development, transmission science, as well as modelling. In each of the Universities' cases, they've had to prepare research plans and infrastructure in order to receive the system including defining specific research projects that highlight how much they can help, both immediately and in the long-term. 

Each institution is tackling things slightly differently. NYU is looking at "the many important facets of the COVID-19 crisis, including: discovery of drugs that may be therapeutic for COVID-19 and future SARS virus mutations, retrieval of relevant research results from the vast biomedical literature, analysis of medical imaging for screening of patients, and analysing political attitudes and voting behaviour in response to financial hardships."

While MIT has released a statement explaining that, "across MIT we are engaged in work to address the global COVID-19 pandemic, from that with immediate impact such as modelling, testing, and treatment, to that with medium and longer term impact such as discovery of new therapeutics and vaccines."

In the case of Rice University, its centre for Theoretical Biological Physics is using researcher José Onuchic's previous studies on influenza A as a "guide to explore how the coronavirus's surface proteins facilitate entrance to human cells, the critical first step of infection." Alongside that, another scientist, Peter Wolynes, is "using principles from his foundational theories of protein folding to screen thousands of drug molecules and identify the best candidates for clinical tests based upon how well they bind to the virus's surface proteins."

In all cases, extra compute power and the assistance of the Penguin Computing cloud system is sure to help a lot. Some well known names are also involved with Nvidia Mellanox HDR 200 gigabit InfiniBand solutions providing high data throughput, and Gigabyte is supplying its G290-Z21 compute nodes for the Penguin clusters, built around a single, 48-core AMD EPYC 7642 processor paired with eight Radeon Instinct MI50 GPU accelerators.

It's all part of AMD's continuing commitment to COVID-19 research and while it's not quite as exciting as the latest consumer announcements, won't it be nice when normality resumes in part thanks to such efforts like these?

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