The UK has joined the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, an international collaborative effort to find treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19 using supercomputers.
Entering the UK adds more than 20 petaflops of high performance computing (HPC) capacity to the effort. While a supercomputer with eight petaflops can perform one million calculations per second per person worldwide, the HPC Consortium can perform calculations equivalent to 50 times this figure.
Supercomputers are already used to perform calculations in molecular modeling, bioinformatics and epidemiology, in the search for new molecules that could support COVID-19 treatments or a vaccine.
The UK’s efforts in this exercise will be led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which will be assisted by the University of Edinburgh, the Daresbury Laboratory, the Earlham Institute, the Met Office and the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
Three British entities are already accessing supercomputer capacities via the Consortium for their projects: the chemistry start-up PostEra, the start-up of IA Kuono and a merger between researchers from IBM and the University of Oxford working in close collaboration with the Hartree Center.
The UK decision to join the consortium will allow its researchers to access cutting-edge advanced computers to speed up their research, as well as keep up with developments in this area, said UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway.