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European Union wants world's fastest supercomputer by 2023 for €1B

13 January 2018

The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, said it would contribute around 486 million euros ($580 million) to the project.

The EU's contribution in EuroHPC will be around Euro 486 million under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries. It will also support a research and innovation programme to develop the technologies and machines (hardware) as well as the applications (software) that would run on these supercomputers. The article notes that European researchers and commercial users of HPC often do this type of work outside of Europe because there is not enough computational power in the region to support their demands.

"Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy", said Andrus Ansip, EC vice-president for the digital single market. Digital commissioner Mariya Gabriel said in a press conference that supercomputers are needed to remain competitive.

Eventually, the European Union intends to create a sophisticated "exascale" system using technology developed in Europe.

Expertise built up in the first phase would help Europe go beyond petaflops for the second stage of its research project and aims, by 2023, to make a machine that can breach the exaflop barrier. Of that amount, $589 million will come from the EU. Overall, around €1 billion of public funding would be invested by 2020, and private members of the initiative would also add in kind contributions.

For the moment, most of the scientists and European enterprises handle their data out of the EU, according to the European executivem, a lack of independence that supposes a threat to security.

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.

The world's current fastest supercomputers are about a thousand times slower than this target.

Of the top 10 supercomputers, the top two are in China, one is in Switzerland, three are in Japan, and four are in the United States. The machine, 55th in global supercomputer rankings, is the first phase of a 25-petaflop computer that will be used by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. "Furthermore, we wish to jointly build a pre-access scale infrastructure, which will be among the most advanced in the world", Gabriel said. "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".

European Union wants world's fastest supercomputer by 2023 for €1B