Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

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

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

The Commission expects that member states will chip in another €500m-plus for a total spend of over €1 billion by the year 2020.

In a European Commission press release on Thursday, the Commission's Vice President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said the EU is "lagging behind" when it comes to supercomputers. "We can not risk being dependent on third countries for these computers", she said.

About 202 of the world's fastest supercomputers are located in China, whereas there are only 143 that are situated in the United States, the website Top500 reports.

The European Commission's made a decision to throw €486 million at high performance computers.

Upon its establishment in Luxembourg in the second half of 2018, the EuroHPC operational structure will also support a research and innovation programme to develop the technologies and machines (hardware), as well as the applications (software) that operate on these supercomputers, to process several billion calculations per second. These machines would help the European Union stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of China, the U.S. and Japan.

These computers will act as a stepping stone to progress towards the ultimate goal of a next-gen "exascale" system, which could perform at least a quintillion calculations each second - and yes, that's a billion billion.

"Other Member States and associated countries are encouraged to sign the EuroHPC declaration", the release states. "Brexit has thrown a lot of uncertainty around the UK's participation and it is really unfortunate and causing delay and confusion", University of Bristol's Simon McIntosh-Smith told Bloomberg.

The EU Commission sees this investment as crucial for the EU's competitiveness and independence in the data economy.

"With the EuroHPC (European High-Performance Computing) initiative we want to give European researchers and companies world-leading supercomputer capacity by 2020 - to develop technologies such as artificial intelligence". "They can help us to develop personalized medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently".

Look in more detail, the bloc's contribution in EuroHPC will be around 486 million euros under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, matched by a similar amount from member states and associated countries, according to the Commission's statement.

The four computers that result from this first phase will be made available to businesses and research groups across Europe, said the Commission. "A better European supercomputing infrastructure holds great potential for job creation and is a key factor for the digitization of industry and increasing the competitiveness of the European economy".

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