The U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) will apply its supercomputing capabilities and technical expertise in support of President Trump’s public-private consortium in the fight to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We are eagerly lending our world-class supercomputing resources to combat COVID-19,” said Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator. “NNSA supercomputers will be available, empowering researchers to understand the COVID-19 virus, develop treatments and vaccines, and ultimately bring an end to this pandemic.”
NNSA will contribute critical time on its ten unclassified supercomputers. In total, NNSA will contribute computing power of nearly 32 petaFLOPS for COVID-19 research. PetaFLOPS are a measure of a computer’s performance; FLOPS is an acronym for Floating-Point operations performed per second. A petaFLOPS is a magnitude of 1015 (approximately one quadrillion) calculations per second. The NNSA machines will supplement the COVID-19 HPC Consortium’s pool of an additional 13 supercomputers from other government institutions, industry, and academia. Membership in the Consortium will continue to grow.
“Supercomputers are especially good for conducting research in areas like epidemiology and molecular modeling, because the systems mirror the interconnectivity that exists in nature,” according to Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research, another partner in the consortium.
Personnel from NNSA headquarters and the DOE National Laboratories will also serve on the COVID-19 HPC Consortium’s executive committee, steering committee, and proposal review panel to help match COVID-19 researchers with the appropriate resources. Other committee members include representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and researchers from other government, industry, and academic centers.
NNSA typically allocates its High Performance Computing (HPC) systems toward next-generation weapons design, simulations, and stockpile stewardship, which allows vital modeling capabilities without nuclear explosive testing. NNSA National Laboratories operate three of the world’s 10 most powerful supercomputers, Trinity, Sierra, and Lassen.