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

CSCS Piz Daint HPC

CSCS Piz Daint HPC

The European Commission has proposed allocating €1bn in the upcoming EU budget to build two supercomputers capable of a quintillion calculations per second, as well as another two mid-range machines.

"To achieve the goal of HPC leadership-meaning at minimum parity in HPC capabilities with the best in the world-Europe needs to acquire at least one exascale supercomputer in the same timeframe as the U.S., Japan and China".

The Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2 (Milkyway-2), which are the fastest super computers according to the website's ranking, are also situated in China.

The current signatories are Luxembourg, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Greece and Croatia.

When asked why the UK didn't sign the project's formal declaration, UK Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson Alastair Clifton refused to comment.

Formally, the United Kingdom is not part of the project, and some are fearing the country might be missing out on a great opportunity.

Simon McIntosh-Smith, a professor of high-performance computing at the University of Bristol, said: "Brexit has thrown a lot of uncertainty around the UK's participation and it is really unfortunate and causing delay and confusion".

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.

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The European Commission (EC) has announced a financial framework for investing €1 billion in European supercomputers over the next two years.

While the Top500 tables are always great to be at the head of, more powerful supercomputers are a massive boon to people around the world due to the advantages that they bring.

Eventually, the European Union intends to create a sophisticated "exascale" system using technology developed in Europe.

Buying and developing supercomputing technology is insane expensive, with exascale machines expected to cost up to a half billion dollars. Digital commissioner Mariya Gabriel said in a press conference that supercomputers are needed to remain competitive.

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".

"We do not have any supercomputers in the world's top ten", he said.

He added: "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".

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