Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

European Union invests $1.2bn in supercomputers to compete with China, US

European Union invests $1.2bn in supercomputers to compete with China, US

The third is that, according to an FAQ about the project, "The European HPC technology supply chain is weak and the integration of European technologies into operational HPC machines remains insignificant". The aim is to develop its own exascale machines (that can do a billion billion calculations per second) by 2022-23.

The Commission expects that member states will chip in another €500m-plus for a total spend of over €1 billion by the year 2020. To-date, 13 countries have done so - Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.

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".

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

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.

There will also be two "mid-range systems", which will be able to handle tens of millions of billions of calculations per second.

The European Commission's made a decision to throw €486 million at high performance computers.

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European officials first detailed the initiative, named EuroHPC, in March 2017 but today is the first time that they've spoken about the project's funding details.

While the Top500 tables are always great to be at the head of, more powerful supercomputers are a massive boon to people around the world due to the advantages that they bring.

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

"It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top ten", said Andrus Ansip, the European Commisssion vice president for the digital single market.

"It is a tough race and today the European Union is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top-ten".

Brussels says it will help develop artificial intelligence and applications to improve health, security and engineering, plus help forecast hurricane routes and simulate earthquakes.

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