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Time to Call a Summit of the Supercomputer Kind
Old 03-19-2020, 06:44 PM   #1
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Time to Call a Summit of the Supercomputer Kind

I'm betting on Summit the IBM supercomputer on this one .

Research has gone digital, and medical science is no exception. As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, for instance, scientists searching for a treatment have drafted IBM’s Summit supercomputer, the world’s most powerful high-performance computing facility, according to the Top500 list, to help find promising candidate drugs.

One way of treating an infection could be with a compound that sticks to a certain part of the virus, disarming it. With tens of thousands of processors spanning an area as large as two tennis courts, the Summit facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has more computational power than 1 million top-of-the-line laptops. Using that muscle, researchers digitally simulated how 8,000 different molecules would interact with the virus — a Herculean task for your typical personal computer.

“It took us a day or two, whereas it has traditionally taken months on a normal computer,” said Jeremy Smith, director of the University of Tennessee/ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics and principal researcher in the study.

Simulations alone can’t prove a treatment will work, but the project was able to identify 77 candidate molecules that other researchers can now test in trials. The fight against the novel coronavirus is just one example of how supercomputers have become an essential part of the process of discovery.
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