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January 12, 2018updated 13 Jul 2022 12:17pm

European Commission €1bn supercomputers fund targets HPC shortages

The funds will support the development of exascale performance systems by 2023.

By Sabrina Dougall

The European Commission (EC) will funnel €1bn investment into high performance computing (HPC) by 2020 in a bid to keep Europe on par with boosted tech funding in the USA, Japan and BRIC.

The EU will put up ca. €486m, matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries, totaling around one billion Euros of public funds. On top of this, private individuals and groups will also contribute, in return for part-ownership and operation rights of technologies produced.

A new structure, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, will divide the investment across a three-pronged strategy: technology development, providing access to industry and SMEs, and infrastructure support. As part of R&D investment, scientists will receive support to acquire pre-exascale compute technologies, attaining exascale (a billion billion or 1018 calculations per second) performance systems by 2023.

The Joint Undertaking will include the development of low-power microprocessor technology as well as the co-design of European exascale machines. In addition, the plans include the acquisition of two world-class pre-exascale supercomputers and at least two mid-range supercomputing machines with managed public and private access starting in 2020.

The EC said it will run training, education, awareness-raising and skills programmes alongside these programmes.

The initiative comes after a continent-wide EC consultation revealed 85% of respondents found the current state of HPC in Europe problematic. More than half (55.6%) cited limited interaction between industry and academia on the exploitation of high-end computing systems, particularly in industry and services innovations. The same percentage of respondents felt negatively towards a lack of coordination in HPC initiatives, leading to wasted resources. A further 48% expressed discontent over Europe’s dependence on non-EU suppliers for critical supercomputing technologies.

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“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” said Andrus Ansip, European Commission VP for the Digital Single Market, said.

The project will run between 2019-2026, aligning with the EuroHPC declaration signed in 2017 by thirteen EU member states (Britain not included).

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