CERN and LHC experiments’ computing resources in global research effort against COVID-19

CERN is the hub of vast global computing resources and collaborations, representing a considerable potential in the fight against COVID-19, with applications ranging from the support of therapy and vaccine research to the deployment of the data-sharing platform Zenodo, and from online educational platform tools to epidemic modelling.

As a first response to the pandemic, the particle physics community mobilised its number-crunching capabilities, allocating processors from the data centres of CERN, the LHC experiments and the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid to support volunteer computing initiatives such as Rosetta@home and Folding@home, which simulate protein dynamics to help understand the SARS-CoV-2 virus. With the pandemic worsening, the number of voluntary contributions to the distributed computing project rapidly increased and the joint processing capacity of the initiatives grew to exceed several exaFLOPS: a world first. In such a supportive environment, CERN and the particle physics community realised that the time had come to make a gradual transition from dedicating computer cores to such initiatives to contributing to them in more specific ways, through data management and data analytics expertise, as well as through software resources.

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