University offers AI supercomputer to help battle COVID-19

As the healthcare industry ramps up efforts to understand and combat COVID-19, AI is slated to be an increasingly important tool in research and solution development efforts.

Jeff Rowe | Mar 24, 2020 12:00 am

To help government agencies, research institutions and the healthcare industry broaden their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, New York-based Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is offering access to its Artificial Intelligence Multiprocessing Optimized System (AiMOS), one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

“In order to combat the devastating effects of this pandemic, we must be able to fully grasp the complexities and interconnectedness of biological systems and epidemiological data, as researchers work to develop therapeutic interventions and address gaps in our knowledge,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “This effort requires expertise, collaboration, and the ability to process incredible amounts of data, and Rensselaer is offering all three at this critical time. In particular, the ability to model at very large scales requires the unique capabilities of AiMOS.”

RPI is also offering researchers access to world-class expertise in data, networking, therapeutic interventions, materials, public health, and other areas necessary to combat the rapidly spreading disease.

According to RPI, AiMOS, which debuted in the November 2019 Top500 ranking of supercomputers as the 24th most powerful supercomputer in the world and the third-most energy efficient, is able to perform eight quadrillion calculations per second. It is also ranked as the most powerful supercomputer housed at a private university.

Located at the Rensselaer Center for Computational Innovations, AiMOS serves as the test bed for the New York State-IBM Research AI Hardware Center, among other things, and is designed and optimized to help users explore new applications in AI.

RPI is making AiMOS available as part of a larger partnership with IBM, academic institutions, and national labs. At the time of its unveiling in November, 2019, Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM Executive Vice President, noted, “Computer artificial intelligence, or more appropriately, human augmented intelligence (AI), will help solve pressing problems, from healthcare to security to climate change. In order to realize AI's full potential, special purpose computing hardware is emerging as the next big opportunity. . .  Our collective goal is to make AI systems 1,000 times more efficient within the next decade.”


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