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How Penguin Computing Is Fighting COVID-19 With Hybrid HPC

'We have several researchers that have joined in and are utilizing that environment, and at the moment, we're doing that at no cost for COVID-19 research,' Penguin Computing President Sid Mair says of the system integrator's cloud HPC service, which complements its on-premise offerings.

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What makes these GPUs important for research purposes?

Two reasons. One: In biomedical research, they they've been working with GPU-accelerated codes for a number of years, so it's a fairly well-established usage of compute resources. And what GPUs allowed you to do is move highly parallelized capabilities into a computing environment — a GPU basically has many, many cores built into it in order to run compute. And so there are certain codes that work very well with GPUs, and then there are other codes that work very well with more of a CPU base. And so these GPUs help accelerate those types of codes that match a lot of that bio research that's going on.

The second piece is GPUs are very, very good at looking at deep learning situations for artificial intelligence. By using AI, what AI typically does is that it helps you narrow down your choices on what you want to look at in a higher intensity compute environment for these types of codes. You may look at patterns going on and when you narrow down to a few of those patterns, then you can actually do the longer compute or compute-intensive activity to those narrower set of things that you're trying to look at, to come to an answer quicker.

The second thing AI gives you the ability to do is look at certain types of pattern or movement. So if you're going to look at, for instance, the dispersion of a contagion across a population, AI is really good at looking at those kinds of patterns and determining where your next hotspot could be, or where you could possibly do things like open up the economy due to changes in what's been happening within the spread of the virus. AI can also be used to narrow down these treatments and/or vaccine capabilities by narrowing down the number of proteins you may want to look at for a vaccine. So there's a variety of actual activities that go on with these kinds of computer environments.

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