CLAIX-2018 contributes to the Sars-CoV-2 research

23/06/2020
Coronavirus Copyright: Pixabay  

Powerful computers are needed for research into the Sars-CoV-2 virus, corresponding medicaments or a vaccine. Several such projects therefore use computing time at the high-performance computing centres in Garching, Jülich and Stuttgart. Due to the extraordinary social relevance it is important, especially in these cases, that the corresponding complex calculations can be carried out undisturbed.

Due to recent IT security incidents, several of these systems had to be temporarily isolated from the outside world. This was done immediately to avert further damage. As a result, it was not possible to back up current data and calculation results beforehand and outstanding calculations could not be carried out as planned. A long-term shutdown therefore delays research into the virus and thus the development of vital active substances.

However, switching to other high-performance computers is not easy. Due to their high acquisition and operating costs, the systems of the large German centres specialise in different areas of application and the codes running on them are optimised accordingly. In addition, there is sometimes talk of data volumes in excess of terabytes and petabytes.

While parts of the systems at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) were not available, scientists at the University of Osnabrück were nevertheless able to switch to CLAIX-2018 with the help of the IT Centre staff. With additional staff, the neuroinformatician Gordon Pipa from the University of Osnabrück was able to provide computing power, at least temporarily, for his current research on the dissemination of Covid-19. "RWTH Aachen University contributed to a solution spontaneously and without complications by allowing us to use its resources while the system was not available at Jülich," says Pipa*.

This example impressively shows that the scientific network functions quickly and flexibly - especially in special situations. The challenge here is to find the right balance between securing the systems on the one hand and sufficient access for legitimate users on the other. This is the only way to ensure long-term research.

* in the article "SUPERCOMPUTER: Hackerangriff bremst Forschung aus"