Coronavirus researchers to get fast-track access to Irish supercomputer

23 Mar 2020

Image: © Dario Lo Presti/

The ICHEC is offering fast-track access to its Kay supercomputer to those conducting coronavirus-related research.

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) has announced that all approved scientific and academic research related to Covid-19 – the disease caused by the current coronavirus pandemic – will get fast-track access to one of the country’s most powerful systems.

The organisation said that it will consider all research, providing it has either been peer-reviewed via a funding body – such as the European Commission – or is part of an existing activity approved to tackle the coronavirus.

Future Human

“Research at the molecular level and the epidemiological level, which contributes to understanding this virus, developing vaccines against it, or understanding how it spreads, are vital to support the national effort to combat Covid-19,” said JC Desplat, director of the ICHEC.

“High-performance computing offers researchers the ability to test models at speeds traditional computing methods are incapable of.”

The ICHEC said it will provide up to 1m core hours and 1TB of storage for each approved project. Meanwhile, the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe – of which Ireland is a member – said it was also supporting scientists to combat the outbreak.

International effort

Over in the US, two of the largest tech companies revealed plans to open up their most powerful systems to researchers and groups that are attempting to find treatments or cures for Covid-19.

IMB said that its Summit supercomputer has already helped researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee to screen 8,000 compounds and find the ones most likely to bind to the main ‘spike’ of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services said it was to commit $20m towards helping researchers and companies accelerate diagnostic research towards fighting the pandemic.

A number of other household names in Big Tech have promised to aid efforts by creating relief funds, donating face masks, or switching over production facilities to make ventilators.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic