Building a supercomputer to fight COVID-19

April 13, 2020
Helio AG, a start-up from Switzerland, is offering its compute delivery network to accelerate research to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

In an effort to support the international research community, Switzerland's Helio AG, creator of an open platform that connects idle data center computing resources to enable the quick and cost-effective execution of large-scale workloads, announced on Mar. 25 that it is opening its entire compute infrastructure free of charge to anyone working on COVID-19 and related research or applications.

The move seeks to empower any research organization, laboratory, university or other compute-intensive applications with the extra computing power needed to more effectively and quickly model solutions to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Per a Helio statement, "Researchers around the world are quickly trying to understand the virus and develop an immunization program. What in earlier days would have been done with hundreds of manual experiments in laboratories is now often done with the aid of computers. Testing billions of combinations of substances and simulating the virus’s response requires an incredible amount of computing resources — especially when it’s needed on short timelines."

To aid this process, Helio’s proprietary platform is rapidly connecting data centers across Europe to help researchers get the computing resources they need. The platform connects a network of individual data centers to more efficiently perform computing tasks, such as the rendering of 3D films and animations or the simulation of physical phenomena.

Kevin Häfeli, founder and CEO of Helio, comments, “Switzerland is very much affected by the virus, and we started to wonder how we can help. We have worked with research organizations in the past and know that often the availability of computing resources is a key challenge. To do our bit, we will open up our network for anyone to use and make our team available to help connect computing tasks on short notice.”

Helio is currently connecting more and more data centers across Europe. Operators such as SysEleven in Berlin and Ops One in Zurich have already started connecting their infrastructure to Helio, making their spare capacity available.

Christoph Buchli, CTO of Helio says, “Even though there is a surge in demand for digital services, many data centers still have a lot of unused capacity that we can make available via Helio. We will be connecting more and more data centers over the coming weeks and months.”

Data centers across Europe that would like to contribute capacity to this effort are asked to reach out to Helio via its website: www.helio.exchange.

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