BP supercomputer to support worldwide healthcare researchers in race to halt Covid-19

Published: 23 April 2020 - 2 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery
BP is joining forces with the US government, leading universities and the world’s largest technology companies by providing access to its supercomputer to help researchers halt the spread of Covid-19.

BP will donate its significant supercomputing capability to the public-private consortium formed in March 2020 by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the US Department of Energy and IBM.

The group, known as the Covid-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, will pool resources and expertise from Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, BP and others. They aim to provide Covid-19 researchers worldwide with access to the most powerful high-performance computing resources that can significantly advance the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the virus.

The world is rallying together in response to this pandemic and our biosciences experts, computer scientists and mathematicians are proud to play their part by supporting groundbreaking and potentially life-saving research,” said David Eyton, BP’s executive vice president of innovation and engineering. “We are all in this together and BP is working with governments and communities to do everything we can to help fight this pandemic.”

BP will provide access to its Center for High-Performance Computing (CHPC) in Houston, which houses one of the world’s largest supercomputers for commercial research and processes enormous amounts of data for BP. It has 16.3 petaflops of computing capability, allowing it to process more than 16 million billion calculations per second and complete a problem in an hour that would take a laptop nine years. The centre’s staff includes experts in data science, applied mathematics, and systems architecture.

BP will also make available the expertise of its Biosciences Center, located in San Diego, California. The centre consists of dozens of scientists who have capabilities in biological sciences, chemical engineering and chemistry, and works across BP to support many aspects of its operations. These scientists will work closely with BP’s high-performance computing team to understand research proposals as they come in and help prioritise work.

Researchers are invited to submit Covid-19 related research proposals to the consortium via the online portal, which will be reviewed and matched with computing resources from one of the partner institutions. An expert panel of top scientists and computing researchers will work with proposers to quickly assess the public health benefit of the work and coordinate the allocation of the group’s powerful computing assets and resources.

The sophisticated computing systems available through this consortium can process massive numbers of calculations related to bioinformatics, epidemiology, and molecular modelling, expected to help scientists develop answers to complex scientific questions about Covid-19 in hours, or days versus weeks, or months.

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