NVIDIA is contributing its AI smarts to help fight COVID-19

It's betting that raw computing power will help with research and treatment.

Radoslav Zilinsky via Getty Images

Many people are lending their computing power to efforts researching and fighting COVID-19, and that now includes NVIDIA. The GPU maker has joined the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium group tackling the disease; that group plans to support researchers by giving them time with 30 supercomputers offering a combined 400 petaflops of performance. NVIDIA will add to this by providing expertise in AI, biology and large-scale computing optimizations. NVIDIA is also providing access to its own SaturnV supercomputer, but the primary focus is on its AI experience.

The company likened the Consortium’s efforts to the Moon race. Ideally, this will speed up work for scientists who need modelling and other demanding tasks that would otherwise take a long time.

NVIDIA has a number of existing contributions to coronavirus research, including the 27,000 GPUs inside the Summit supercomputer and those inside many of the computers from the crowdsourced Folding@Home project. This is still a significant step forward, though, and might prove lifesaving if it leads to a vaccine or more effective containment.

Correction, 2:25PM ET: This story and its headline originally claimed that NVIDIA was donating 30 supercomputers to the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium. NVIDIA is not directly providing computers (aside from its SaturnV supercomputer); instead it is using its background in AI and optimizing supercomputer throughput to the group. We apologize for the error.