European Union plans €1bn supercomputer push

Elias Hubbard
January 14, 2018

Under the plans, a new EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will be established to lead on the acquisition and operation of four new supercomputing machines - two of which will be "world-class pre-exascale" machines, and two which will be "mid-range". This will involve it supporting "the development of European supercomputing technology", including the software that could run on HPC machines, the Commission said.

"It is a tough race and today the European Union is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top-ten". This lack of independence threatens privacy, data protection, commercial trade secrets, and ownership of data in particular for sensitive applications.

Ansip said the move will help in the development of technologies, including artificial intelligence and the building of applications for use in areas such as health, security, and engineering. IDC recommends that Europe extends the end date for its HPC strategy from 2020 to 2022, to match the exascale time frames of the U.S., Japan and China, and that Europe plans to acquire two exascale systems, one of which stresses innovative European technologies (such as those being advanced within ETP4HPC).

The EU will spend around €486 million (US$589m) on the initiative, which will be matched by member states, along with additional investment from industry members. Overall, around €1 billion of public funding would be invested by 2020, and private members of the initiative would also add in kind contributions.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said in a statement: "Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens". So far Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland have signed up to be part of the scheme.

Although the €1 billion investment is only created to extend out to 2020, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking is supposed to remain operational until the end of 2026, which presumably will require another round of investments.

The EU Commission also noted that "high-performance computing is a critical tool for understanding and responding to major scientific and societal challenges, such as early detection and treatment of diseases or developing new therapies based on personalised and precision medicine".

According to Brussels, the machines will also help to predict the routes of hurricanes and to simulate earthquakes. They agreed to build a pan-European integrated exascale supercomputing infrastructure and welcomed other member states and associated countries to sign the declaration.

It predicts that with the use of a supercomputer, vehicle production cycles could be reduced "from 60 months to 24 months".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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