The European Commission unveiled Thursday its plans to invest jointly with the Member States in building a world-class European supercomputers infrastructure.
Supercomputers are needed to process ever larger amounts of data and bring benefits tothe society in many areas from health care and renewable energy to car safety and cybersecurity.
Thursday’s step is crucial for the EU’s competitiveness and independence in the data economy. Today, European scientists and industry increasingly process their data outside the EU because their needs are not matched by the computation time or computer performance available in the EU. This lack of independence threatens privacy, data protection, commercial trade secrets, and ownership of data in particular for sensitive applications.
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. It will also support a research and innovation programme to develop the technologies and machines (hardware) as well as the applications (software) that would run on these supercomputers.
The EU’s contribution in EuroHPC will be around EUR 486 million under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries. Overall, around EUR 1 billion of public funding would be invested by 2020, and private members of the initiative would also add in kind contributions.
Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said, “Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy. It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world’s top-ten. 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.”
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society added that, “Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens. 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.”
Benefits of supercomputing
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 the hurricanes are following or for earthquake simulations.
The EuroHPC infrastructure will provide European industry and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a better access to supercomputers to develop innovative products. The use of High Performance Computing has a growing impact on industries and businesses 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.
High-Performance Computing is also essential for national security and defence, for example when developing complex encryption technologies, tracking and responding to cyberattacks, deploying efficient forensics or in nuclear simulations.
Research and innovation matched with infrastructure
The initiative will pool investments to establish leading European supercomputers and big data infrastructure. 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.