European Commission’s €1bn supercomputer investment
In March of 2017, the European Commission committed to creating a supercomputer infrastructure to support the next generation of computing and data infrastructures, known as EuroHPC.
Now, the Commission has unveiled funding plans, to tune of €1 billion, which it says it will to invest jointly with the member states to build “a world-class European supercomputers infrastructure”.
A new legal and funding structure, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, shall acquire, build and deploy across Europe a world-class High-Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructure, said a statement from the Commission. It said it will also support a research and innovation programme to develop the technologies and hardware, as well as the applications, to run on the supercomputers.
The EU’s contribution in EuroHPC, according to the commission statement, will be around €486 million under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries. Overall, around €1 billion of public funding would be invested by 2020, and private members of the initiative would also add in kind contributions.
The countries already signed-up are France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
“Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy,” said Andrus Ansip, vice president for the Digital Single Market, European Commission. “It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world’s top 10. With the EuroHPC initiative we want to give European researchers and companies world-leading supercomputer capacity by 2020 — to develop technologies such as artificial intelligence and build the future’s everyday applications in areas like health, security or engineering.”
The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking aims to acquire systems with pre-exascale performance (a hundred million billion or 1017 calculations per second), and support the development of exascale (a billion billion or 1018 calculations per second), performance systems based on EU technology, by 2022-2023.
The activities of the Joint Undertaking will include the acquisition and operation of two world-class pre-exascale supercomputing machines and at least two mid-range supercomputing machines (capable of around 1016 calculations per second), and providing and managing access to these supercomputers to a wide range of public and private users starting from 2020.
Secondly, it will conduct a research and innovation programme on HPC, to support the development of European supercomputing technology including the first generation of European low-power microprocessor technology, and the co-design of European exascale machines, and to foster applications, skills development and a wider use of High-Performance Computing.
The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will operate in 2019-2026. The planned infrastructure will be jointly owned and operated by its members consisting at first of the countries that have signed the EuroHPC declaration and private members from academia and industry. Other members can join this cooperation at any moment, provided their financial contribution.
The Commission is keen to have smaller organisations gain access to the benefits of HPC.
The use of HPC has a growing impact on industries and businesses, said the commission statement, by significantly reducing product design and production cycles, accelerating the design of new materials, minimising costs, increasing resource efficiency and shortening and optimising decision processes. For example, car production cycles can be reduced thanks to supercomputers from 60 months to 24 months, it said.
“Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens,” said Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for Digital Economy and Society. “They can help us to develop personalised medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently. A better European supercomputing infrastructure holds great potential for job creation and is a key factor for the digitisation of industry and increasing the competitiveness of the European economy.”