European Commission wants €1 billion investment in European supercomputers

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The European Commission on Thursday announced a plan to invest 1 billion euros (1.19 billion US dollars) with European Union (EU) member states to build a world-class European supercomputers infrastructure. "We can not risk being dependent on third countries for these computers", she said. We want to finance the development of competitive European High Performance Computing. The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking aims to acquire systems with pre-exascale performance (a hundred million billion or 10 calculations per second), and support the development of exascale (a billion billion or 10 calculations per second), performance systems based on European Union technology, by 2022-2023. The exascale computer is expected to be capable of achieving one quintillion calculations per second. It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: "we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top-ten", Andrus Ansip, European Commission VP for the Digital Single Market, said.

The EuroHPC funding structure will be used for deployments of pre-exascale systems, as well as for development of technology that will go into subsequent European-built exascale systems.

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".

Earlier, Seven member states signed the EuroHPC declaration in March 2017 and were later joined by more member states.

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

"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.

Brussels says it will help develop artificial intelligence and applications to improve health, security and engineering, plus help forecast hurricane routes and simulate earthquakes. "They can help us to develop personalized medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently". 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 digitalization of the economy and securing Europe's global competiveness in research and innovation.

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

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