European Union unveils plan for Euro 1 bln investment in high-performance computing


The European Commission, hereafter known as the Gaggle of Red-tapers, has unveiled plans for a €1 billion investment in supercomputer infrastructure.

Andrus Ansip, the European Union commissioner responsible for the digital single market, said: "Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy". "We can not risk being dependent on third countries for these computers", she said.

Although the European Commission is likely to refine the plan over the coming months, it'll aim to purchase these supercomputers by 2020. The Commission hopes that the EuroHPC will result in Europe having two supercomputers that are among the top 10 in the world and capable of tens of millions of billions of calculations per second.

The cash will be spent developing machines that carry out a billion billion calculations per second.

A new legal and funding structure, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, will acquire, build and deploy high performance computing infrastructure across Europe.

Today, the two fastest supercomputers are in China.

However, she said that at present the old continent is no longer in the top 10 of this speciality.

"We do not have any supercomputers in the world's top ten", he said.

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Clifton did, however, tell Bloomberg that the United Kingdom has been taking "an active part in development" and whether the country would sign up to the initiative "is an open question".

"Brexit has thrown a lot of uncertainty around the U.K.'s participation and it is really unfortunate and causing delay and confusion", Simon McIntosh-Smith, a professor specialising in high-performance computing at the University of Bristol, said.

Around half the funding from the EuroHPC project will come from the Commission, including existing Horizon R&D funds, and the remainder from ongoing HPC work in member states, with the entire amount to be invested by 2020.

The EU's contribution in EuroHPC will be around €486 million under the current multiannual fnancial framework, matched by a similar amount from member states and associated countries.

"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 personalised medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently".

Supercomputers are generally measured through FLOPS, and the world's most powerful models can process hundreds of quatrillions of these.

European scientists and industry risk yielding secrets or sensitive information as they increasingly process data outside the EU to perform tasks in the absence of the best supercomputers, the commission said.