insideHPC Special Report: HPC and AI for the Era of Genomics – Part 2

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This special report sponsored by Dell Technologies, takes a deep dive into HPC and AI for life sciences in the era of genomics. 2020 will be remembered for the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19. While infection rates are growing exponentially, the race is on to find a treatment, vaccine, or cure. Governments and private  organizations are teaming together to understand the basic biology of the virus, its genetic code, to find  what can stop it.

Significant amounts of computing power are aimed at this problem, including using the most powerful high performance computing (HPC) systems in the world today. Finding a cure or eliminating  COVID-19 will not only benefit the worldwide population, but will also be the foundation for tackling the next pandemic, which some scientists say will happen in the not too distant future.

This technology guide, insideHPC Special Report: HPC and AI for the Era of Genomics, highlights a lineup of Ready Solutions created by Dell Technologies which are highly optimized and tuned hardware and software stacks for a variety of industries. The Ready Solutions for HPC Life Sciences have been designed to speed time to production, improve performance with purpose-built solutions, and scale easier with modular building blocks for capacity and performance.


As of March, 2020, the US Government has set up a consortium to make some of the world’s most powerful  systems available to researchers in order to understand the COVID-19 virus, as well as to make progress in  creating a vaccine. Scientists from many disciplines will have access to hundreds of petaflops of compute  power utilizing over 750,000 cores. The combination of HPC and AI technologies is speeding up the possibilities and virtual testing of molecules that may be the sought after vaccine or cure. Without the  petaflops of compute power and data storage available, this process would significantly delay the introduction of a vaccine or treatment.

The leading edge compute, networking and data storage resources made available through this consortium  can process extensive simulations related to bioinformatics, epidemiology, and molecular modeling.  Scientists can investigate possible chemical combinations in hours or days, compared to previous times of  weeks to months. XSEDE, the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment allows scientists and researchers from around the US free access to some of the most powerful computing resources available for  a variety of disciplines. Recently, XSEDE has joined the HPC Consortium for COVID-19 research. The San  Diego Supercomputer Center is a member of XSEDE and is contributing its expertise in large system and  storage systems design to fight COVID-19.

“America is coming together to fight COVID-19, and that means unleashing the full capacity of our world-class supercomputers to rapidly advance scientific research for treatments and a vaccine. We thank the  private sector and academic leaders who are joining the federal government as part of the Trump  Administration’s whole-of-America response,” said Michael Kratsios, U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

Benefits to Organizations

Besides the benefits to individuals who will receive more targeted diagnosis and treatment, organizations that implement or contribute to this cause can expect a number of benefits.


IT departments that can provide remote access to the latest systems can accelerate new discoveries.  Researchers can focus on their scientific research without having to delve into IT issues. A well-designed and well-tuned architecture can contribute to easy end-user access to HPC resources, as well as make maintenance and support easier for the IT organization.


An organization that makes better use of its leading-edge IT infrastructure draws additional opportunities for  new grants or other funding sources, and improves its ability to recruit new researchers. State-of-the art  facilities, including the latest computing and storage systems, allow for researchers to concentrate on their  research with the latest tools. Organizations confident in their use of modern IT infrastructure can in turn help others with best practices and insight into capitalizing on additional opportunities.

Patient outcomes

An organization that works directly with patients can demonstrate and quantify better patient outcomes, not  only helping patients, but also increasing the organization’s visibility into data over time. Using the latest  techniques in personalized medicine leads to better outcomes for patients, which in turn raises the bar for all competing organizations.

As precision medicine enables treatment based on individual symptoms and diagnosis, there is less likelihood of a misdiagnosis and more options for the treatment of rare diseases. (The Center for Rare Childhood  Diseases defines rare as fewer than five in a 10k population.)


Researchers are often consumers of all of the available computing power, networking and storage capacity.  When a more optimal solution is available for them to use, more complete simulations can be performed and more outcomes can be simulated. This not only allows for more personalized decisions to be made, but also empowers experts in many fields to move their science forward. Advanced technology enables clinicians to work with larger amounts of data, create more realistic models and determine better treatment paths for individuals. This can also lead to the sharing of information and insights with a variety of organizations.

Over the next few weeks we will explore these topics surrounding HPC and AI for life sciences in the era of genomics:

Download the complete insideHPC Special Report: HPC and AI for the Era of Genomics, courtesy of Dell Technologies.