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How NVIDIA Is Using Its GPU Technolgy To Fight Against COVID-19 Virus

As Silicon Valley is gearing up to fight against the novel coronavirus, NVIDIA is putting its GPU technology to use by enabling researchers and gamers to join the on-going efforts.

GPUs are not only meant to enhance the gaming experience through fast graphics or accelerating the training and inference of machine learning models. They also play a crucial role in assisting the scientific community involved in researching genome analysis and sequencing. 


To fight the growing threat of novel coronavirus, NVIDIA is making its platform, Parabricks, free for 90 days to any researcher working on sequencing the novel coronavirus and the genomes of people afflicted with COVID-19.


Genome analysis is a computationally intensive effort that needs a high performance computing environment powered by CPUs and GPUs. Sequencing platforms such as DNBSEQ-T7 from MGI generate as much as 6 TerraBytes of data every day, which is analyzed by scientists performing whole genome sequencing. According to NVIDIA,  these systems will generate about 20 ExaBytes of data by 2025 – more than Twitter, YouTube and astronomy combined. Interestingly, it would take all the CPUs in every cloud and more than 200 days to run genome analysis.  


Parabricks, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based startup, built a platform based on GPU to speed up the process of analyzing whole genomes – all 3 billion base pairs in human chromosomes – from days to under an hour.


As platforms like DNBSEQ-T7 generate more data, analysis has becomes a major bottleneck in both time and cost perspectives. Parabricks’ solution addresses both of these barriers to accelerate the genomic analysis.


Parabricks’ platform is powered by NVIDIA CUDA-X and benefits from CUDA, cuDNN and TensorRT inference software and runs on NVIDIA entire computing platform from NVIDIA T4 to DGX to cloud GPU instances. 


Earlier this year, NVIDIA acquired Parabricks with a goal to release the companion technology that accelerates single-cell and RNA analysis.


The Parabricks acquisition helped NVIDIA to officially offer genome sequencing and analysis on its HPC platform. 


By making Parabricks accessible to the research community, NVIDIA aims to dramatically reduce the time for variant calling on a whole human genome from days to less than an hour on a single server.


Since Parabricks is available as a part of NVIDIA GPU Cloud (NGC), it is expected to run on major cloud platforms and NVIDIA’s own appliances including DGX-1. Researchers with access to NVIDIA GPUs can fill out a form to request access to Parabricks.


Apart from offering Parabricks free for 90 days, NVIDIA is also encouraging gamers to participate in the Folding@Home project, a distributed computing project for disease research that simulates protein folding, computational drug design and other types of molecular dynamics. 

Folding@home is a collaborative project focused on disease research. The problems they deal with rely on many calcul­ations that can be effectively offloaded to idle PCs running in homes and offices for globally distributed processing. The project is managed by Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.

NVIDIA is joining Intel and AMD in an effort to utilize unused GPU computing power on PCs and gaming machines to fight against COVID-19. 


NVIDIA is putting its best technology to use in fighting COVID-19 through the 90 day free trial of Parabricks and by participating in the Folding@Home project.

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON FORBES BY JANAKIRAM MSV ON MARCH 22, 2020.