EU invests €1 billion in world-class European supercomputers

 

The Competitiveness Council (Council of Ministers) of the European Union adopted a Regulation to establish a Joint Undertaking of European High Performance Computing (EuroHPC). To support this effort, €1 billion will be invested by the European Commission and Member States in building world-class supercomputers infrastructure by 2020. Private contributions will also add in to this public funding.

High performance computing (HPC) has gained a lot of traction at EU level in the past months. This is mainly due to the fact that none of the EU supercomputers are currently in the global top 10 and the existing ones depend on non-European technology. Despite investments both at national and EU level, compared to its competitors from USA, China or Japan, Europe is clearly underinvesting in HPC with a funding gap of €500-750 million per year. At the moment, EU industry provides about 5% of HPC resources worldwide, but uses one third of them.

In March 2017, a group of Member States signed the EuroHCP declaration agreeing to work together to establish a pan-European integrated exascale supercomputing infrastructure called EuroHPC. The declaration has now been signed by 25 states; Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

These countries agreed to build a world-class HPC infrastructure that would rank among the world’s top by 2022-2023. More specifically, by signing the declaration, the countries marked their intention to join the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking that will pool European resources to develop top-of-the-range exascale supercomputers for processing big data.

In short, the EuroHPC will focus on two areas:

  • Supercomputing infrastructure: the purchase of two of the top five global supercomputers and at least a further two which rank in the global top 25, for use in more than 800 scientific and industry fields.
  • Research and innovation: a European supercomputing system will be made available to public and private users, including SMEs.

The activities of the Joint Undertaking will start in the coming weeks after the appointment of representatives of the Commission, European countries and private partners, who will form its Governing Board and its Industrial and Scientific Advisory Board.

In the longer term, the European Commission proposed to invest €2.7 billion in the Joint Undertaking to strengthen supercomputing and data processing in Europe as part of the Digital Europe Programme for 2021-2027 presented in May 2018. This additional funding will ensure the availability of world-class supercomputers and their wider use in both the public and private sectors, including small and medium-sized enterprises. The Joint Undertaking is then expected to start operating in 2019 and to remain operational until the end of 2026.