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IBM, Honeywell to help fight COVID-19. Google, Amazon also enlisted

IBM is looking to supercomputers to help find a cure to the COVID-19 virus, with a consortium that includes many top universities and labs, Amazon, Google and Microsoft, according to President Donald Trump, who announced it in the daily COVID-19 task force briefing at the White House on Sunday. 

“We are going to unleash the power of supercomputers to fight,” the virus, said Trump.

IBM calls it the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium and says it will bring an “unprecedented amount” of computing power – with more than 265 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores, 34,000 GPUs, and counting –  “to help researchers everywhere better understand COVID-19, its treatments and potential cures.”

For context, there are about a million gigabytes in a petaflop. CPUs are the processors that function as the brains of computers, and GPUs, like the processors used for gaming functions on a gaming console, can quickly render data-heavy graphics, images and video.  

The IBM logo on a building.

Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research, says these high-performance computing systems allow researchers to run very large numbers 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.”

IBM says its working with Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Argonne National Lab, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, NASA and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Trump added that Google, Microsoft and Amazon are part of the consortium as well. USA TODAY has reached out to all three. 

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