Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

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

Bennie Garza | 13 January, 2018, 02:23

The European Commission's chose to throw €486 million at high performance computers.

The EU's contribution in EuroHPC will be around Euro 486 million under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries.

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 research effort will include "the development of ... the first generation of European low-power microprocessor technology". This will involve it supporting "the development of European supercomputing technology", including the software that could run on HPC machines, the Commission said.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society commented: 'Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens.

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

Other top ten machines are located in Japan, US and everywhere but Europe (other than Switzerland, which is not part of the EU but an "associated country.") The only large European player is Atos SE, which built the Bull Sequana shown above.

Expertise built up in the first phase would help Europe go beyond petaflops for the second stage of its research project and aims, by 2023, to make a machine that can breach the exaflop barrier.

The initial €486 million to be contributed by the EC represents a significant increase over the amount that was previously being considered.

The Commission said that the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking would also be responsible for "providing and managing access to these supercomputers to a wide range of public and private users starting from 2020".

For the moment, most of the scientists and European enterprises handle their data out of the EU, according to the European executivem, a lack of independence that supposes a threat to security. "To amass the €1 billion-plus funding needed for the exascale supercomputers, the Member States must find a way to pool funding, and the European Commission must find a way to boost its contribution to the needed funding amount".

China now has more high-performance supercomputers than the United States in global rankings. Despite the EU's ambitions, China has said it plans to have an exascale computer ready in 2018, five years before the EU.

China now leads with the fastest supercomputer in the world: the Sunway TaihuLight has over 10 million computer cores.

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