European Union unveils supercomputer plan to rival China

BRUSSELS

The European Commission has proposed allocating €1bn in the upcoming EU budget to build two supercomputers capable of a quintillion calculations per second, as well as another two mid-range machines.

"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".

The proposal, which will be financed by the commission in conjunction with the signed-up member states, is "crucial for the EU's competitiveness and independence in the data economy", according to the press statement, published on Thursday 11 January.

The European Commission said on Friday that it intends to fund world class high performance computers (HPC) in Europe through the "EuroHPC" initiative so that European companies and scientists don't have to process their data outside the EU. The research and innovation programme will support the development of European supercomputing technology, including the first generation of European low-power microprocessor technology and the co-design of European exascale machines, and to foster applications, skills development and a wider use of HPC.

The four computers that result from this first phase will be made available to businesses and research groups across Europe, said the Commission.

"This lack of independence threatens privacy, data protection, commercial trade secrets, and ownership of data in particular for sensitive applications".

The EU will contribute €486 million via the current Multiannual Financial Framework and the rest of the €1 billion will come from member and associated states.

A total of 13 countries have signed up for the plan: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and non-EU Switzerland. "They can help us to develop personalized medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently".

Gabriel added: "A better European supercomputing infrastructure holds great potential for job creation and is a key factor for the digitisation of industry and increasing the competitiveness of the European economy".

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will operate in 2019 to 2026. They agreed to build a pan-European integrated exascale supercomputing infrastructure and welcomed other member states and associated countries to sign the declaration.

So keep a weathered eye on the horizon as the European machine lumbers towards a supercomputer.

It predicts that with the use of a supercomputer, vehicle production cycles could be reduced "from 60 months to 24 months".

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