European Commission pledges to spend €1bn on supercomputers

The European Commission (EC) plans to pump €1 billion into boosting the infrastructure behind Europe’s supercomputers over the next two years.

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will deploy the high performance computing (HPC) infrastructure, with some of the budget spent on a research and innovation initiative to help develop better hardware and software to power the infrastructure.

The EC itself will contribute €486 million, while member states will pay for the rest. Private members of Europe will also put money towards the initiatives.

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“Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy,” Andrus Ansip, EC vice-president for the Digital Single Market, said.

“It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world’s top ten. With the EuroHPC initiative we want to give European researchers and companies world-leading supercomputer capacity by 2020 – to develop technologies such as artificial intelligence and build the future’s everyday applications in areas like health, security or engineering.”

 Professor Kevin Curran, IEEE senior member and professor of cybersecurity at Ulster University, added that the EC’s investment in supercomputing could help the European Union overcome many of the challenges the world is currently experiencing, such as analysing the genetic makeup of humans to identify the likelihood of them developing a certain condition, as well as speech and pattern recognition and translation services.

Environmental-related use cases could include real-time weather forecasting, optimising the production of food, analysing sustainability factors and monitoring plagues, disease control and pesticides effects and testing of alternative energy.

“In cybersecurity and defence, supercomputing could help develop new encryption technologies, combat cybercrime and detect unusual, potentially fraudulent activity. In cosmology and astrophysics, HPC could help observe space more accurately, recreating events after the Big Bang that may have produced gravitational waves, for detecting supernovae and binary star systems, or for understanding dark matter and energy,” Curran explained.

“Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens,” digital economy and society commissioner Mariya Gabriel said.

“They can help us to develop personalised medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently. 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.”

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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