On Thursday, the European Commission announced its plans to invest EUR 486 million in building a world-class European supercomputer infrastructure. The EU’s contribution to the project, matched by a similar amount from member states and associated countries, is mainly aimed at speeding up the digitalisation of the economy and securing Europe’s global competitiveness in research and innovation. The Commission’s initiative is a crucial project as the fastest supercomputer in the EU at present is ranked only number 14 on the global list.
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. It will also allow the formation of a joint European infrastructure of High-Performance Computers (HPC), a branch of computing that enables much higher performance than a typical desktop and facilitates the processing of challenging scientific and engineering tasks.
“The Commission wants to align national, industrial and scientific interests to the EuroHPC project. We want to finance the development of competitive European High-Performance Computing. Furthermore, we wish to jointly build a pre-exascale infrastructure, which will be among the most advanced in the world,” Gabriel said.
At present, only 13 member states out of 28 have signed the EuroHPC declaration, the main objective of which is to elevate the EU’s supercomputers into the global top 3 rankings by 2022/2023. However, Gabriel stressed that “other member states are invited to get on board with the initiative”.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, who presented the EuroHPC alongside Gabriel, said that he believes “supercomputers will revolutionise machine learning, and this in turn will revolutionise science itself”.
Developing high-performance computing and the innovative infrastructure to enable it to be used have become strategic priorities for leading countries throughout the world. Super-computers are capable of predicting large-scale natural disasters, developing new forms of medicine, effective analysis of genome sequence, and designing new aircrafts, not to mention their capabilities in the important fields of cybersecurity and national defence. The latest rankings show that the world’s top super-computers have not only been developed in China, Switzerland, the US and Japan, but are also in use there, leaving the EU far behind.