NUI Galway supercomputer

Ireland joins European HPC initiative

EuroHPC joint undertaking to building a world-class supercomputing infrastructure
The Irish sumpercomputer at NUI Galway, 'Kay'. (Image: NUI Galway)

31 October 2018

Ireland has been confirmed as a founder member of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU), a project which has been approved for €1 billion in investment.

The EuroHPC JU has the aim of building a world-class European supercomputing infrastructure, in recognition of the potential contribution to the digital economy from supercomputing capabilities.

“It’s now official — Ireland is among the founding members of the EuroHPC JU,” said JC Desplat, director of the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC). “It’s really important that we join this initiative from the get-go, as waiting would mean losing out.”

The EuroHPC JU is a new legal and funding structure, which will pool resources from 25 European countries, build supercomputing and data infrastructure, and support research and innovation in the field involving scientists, businesses and industry. It has been established by a regulation adopted by the Commission’s Competitiveness Council. This structure will give European public and private users better access to supercomputing which is essential to support competitiveness and innovation.

“EuroHPC is the European exascale programme, committed to develop and provide a leadership-class supercomputing infrastructure for science, business and industry,” says Professor Sinéad Ryan, chair of the Partnership for Advanced Computing, Europe (PRACE) Scientific Steering Committee, based at the School of Mathematics, Trinity College Dublin.

“It is a really ambitious initiative, and as a member state, and especially as a founding member, Ireland can benefit enormously through increased skills, training and access to some of the world’s best computing resources, as well as enhancing its reputation as a global hub for scientific and technological excellence,” said Professor Ryan.

The EuroHPC JU will be established in November 2018 and remain operational until the end of 2026. The cooperation is seen by the EU as critical for the its competitiveness and independence in the data economy, as industry in the EU currently consumes more than a third of supercomputing resources worldwide but supplies only 5% of them. The Joint Undertaking will have a budget of €1 billion, half from the EU budget and half from participating European Member States.

IBM’s government and regulatory affairs executive, Barry O’Brien said “as the demand for high-performance computing (HPC) grows beyond academia and governments, it has become a strategically important technology for businesses in many sectors in applications like simulation and modelling, large scale data analytics, and increasingly in artificial intelligence.”

“EuroHPC is the first time that a European Joint Undertaking has focussed on HPC,” said Desplat, “so this is really a major development and will be of serious significance for Ireland and Europe as a whole, which has been in the shadow of the US and Japan for years. Essentially, this shows that Europe is now determined to gain the world’s top spot.”

In the longer term, the Commission has proposed to invest €2.7 billion in the Joint Undertaking to strengthen supercomputing and data processing in Europe. If allocated, this additional funding will support the availability of world-class supercomputers and their wider use in both the public and private sectors, for small and medium-sized enterprises.


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