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DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Supports the Fight Against COVID-19

Published April 8, 2020
The Onyx Super Computer at the Engineering Research and Development Center.

The Onyx Super Computer at the Engineering Research and Development Center.

An example of a computer model from a supercomputer.

An example of a computer model from a supercomputer.

From modeling the movement of how droplets travel through an aircraft to conducting virtual screenings of vaccine possibilities, the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program has a powerful weapon in the fight against COVID-19—supercomputers.

The HPCMP, a DoD initiative managed by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, provides supercomputing power and computational science expertise to the DoD.

A major HPCMP effort under way is a study to determine how to airlift passengers with COVID-19 to treatment. Researchers are examining computational fluid dynamics of airflow and droplets to determine ways to safely airlift infected patients with minimal risk to aircrews and medical attendants.

In addition to airlift studies, the HPCMP is working to develop options to conduct virtual drug screenings of potential COVID-19 vaccines. This effort is in conjunction with the U.S. Army Medical Command and the Walter Reed Army Research Institute. High-performance computers at ERDC, as well as at the U.S. Army – Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland are being used to examine target proteins and their chemistry faster. Prior to HPCMP use, only two million vaccine options could be considered over a three-week period. With the program, the goal is to examine 40 million target compounds.

In support to FEMA, HPCMP is also working with ERDC on its Susceptible, Exposed, Infectious, Recovered (SEIR) disease model. In addition to providing modeling results, this effort will answer a broad range of questions (e.g., how the arrival of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Sailors and their on-shore quarantine might impact the spread of COVID-19).

The SEIR model has been modified by ERDC, and workflows are being developed to optimize the modeling effort. That work will also support other modeling requests, such as the development of spread curves for the top 12-15 metropolitan areas in the Nation. Those program assets have also been offered in modeling support to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

For the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) High-Performance Computing (HPC) COVID-19 Consortium, HPCMP has also offered access and technical support for the program’s open research system, a Cray supercomputer with 15,000 cores. This system is set up outside the sensitive “official use only” environment and can easily support academia on short notice.

About the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP)

The HPCMP provides the Department of Defense supercomputing capabilities, high-speed network communications and computational science expertise that enable DoD scientists and engineers to conduct a wide-range of focused research and development, test and evaluation, and acquisition engineering activities. This partnership puts advanced technology in the hands of U.S. forces more quickly, less expensively, and with greater certainty of success. Today, the HPCMP provides a complete advanced computing environment for the DoD that includes unique expertise in software development and system design, powerful high-performance computing systems, and a premier wide-area research network. The HPCMP is managed on behalf of the Department of Defense by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.
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Mary Margaret Edney

Release no. 20-032