European Union proposes spending €1bn on supercomputers

European Commission reveals its plan to invest EUR 486 million in supercomputers

Today, Europe does not have any supercomputers in the world's top ten, but the European Union aims to change that by raising a lot of money to build some.

The European Commission is proposing that the sum be allocated for the systems in the upcoming EU budget, with the aim of building two "world class" "pre-exascale" machines capable of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 calculations per second, and another two mid-range machines in development.

Brussels says it will help develop artificial intelligence and applications to improve health, security and engineering, plus help forecast hurricane routes and simulate earthquakes.

"Other Member States and associated countries are encouraged to sign the EuroHPC declaration", the release states.

"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".

The commission expects to have this system in place by 2022 and said the programme is "crucial for the EU's competitiveness and independence in the data economy". The EU's contribution to the project, matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries, is mainly aimed at speeding up the digitalization of the economy and securing Europe's global competiveness in research and innovation. Overall, around Euro 1 billion of public funding would be invested by 2020, and private members of the initiative would also add in kind contributions.


European scientists and industry risk yielding secrets or sensitive information as they increasingly process data outside the EU to perform tasks in the absence of the best supercomputers, the commission said.

So keep a weathered eye on the horizon as the European machine lumbers towards a supercomputer.

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". HPC is also used for preventing and managing large-scale natural disasters, notably for forecasting the paths which hurricanes follow or for quake simulations.

Thirteen countries have signed up so far, including Belgium, France, Croatia, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Slovenia.

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 EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will operate in 2019 to 2026. For example, auto production cycles can be reduced thanks to supercomputers from 60 months to 24 months. The project is open for other member states and private partners to join.

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