Brussels officials said Europe was "lagging behind" on supercomputers, noting that none of the world's top ten most powerful machines were in the EU.
While presenting the Euro High Performance Computing (EuroHPC) initiative, Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, stressed that the project is a key initiative for the EU Digital Single Market. Among other problems this creates, this lack of independence threatens users' data privacy, protection, and claims to ownership. Of that amount, $589 million will come from the EU.
The Commission expects that member states will chip in another €500m-plus for a total spend of over €1 billion by the year 2020.
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".
"Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens", said Gabriel, in response to the new EuroHPC framework.
When the plan goes ahead, the European Union will invest in two "world-class supercomputers" that can process a hundred hundred million billion calculations per second.
High-performance computing is a critical tool for understanding and responding to major scientific and societal challenges, such as early detection and treatment of diseases or developing new therapies based on personalised and precision medicine. HPC is also used for preventing and managing large-scale natural disasters, notably for forecasting the paths which the hurricanes are following or for quake simulations.
Concretely, the project plans to buy and exploit the first category supercomputers and at least two other machines of intensive calcujlations, which from 2020 onward will be available for public and private services.
The resulting systems will be shared by EuroHPC states, which now consist of France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Greece and Croatia.
"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 third is that, according to an FAQ about the project, "The European HPC technology supply chain is weak and the integration of European technologies into operational HPC machines remains insignificant".
At present, only 13 Member States out of 28 signed the EuroHPC declaration, which main objective is to have the EU's supercomputers in the global top 3 ranking by 2022-2023.
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