The European Commission has launched a €1bn project to catch up to China and the US in the competition to build a ‘super-supercomputer’.
Supercomputers are needed to process ever larger amounts of data and bring together society in many areas including health care, cyber security and renewable energy.
The new supercomputer will be capable of one quintillion calculations per second, making it 10 times faster any of today’s top computers.
The step made by the EU is crucial for the Union’s competitiveness and independence in the data economy. Until now, EU scientists process their data outside of Europe because their needs are not matched by the technology within the Union.
The project – EuroHPC – will receive €486m of funding from the European Commission, with the remaining money to come from 13 member states.
Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: “Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy. 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.”
The organisation will be co-managed by the commission together with representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Greece and Croatia.
Europe’s fastest computer, in Switzerland, is about 12 times slower than China’s Sunway TaihuLight, which performs at 93 quadrillion calculations per second, almost twice as fast as the second quickest machine in the world, which is also Chinese.
The TaihuLight uses Chinese-made microprocessors rather than chips from Silicon Valley’s Intel, which provides chips for 90% of the world’s supercomputers.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, commented: “Supercomputers are already at the core of major advancements and innovations in many areas directly affecting the daily lives of European citizens. 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.”
The new initiative will gather investments to establish leading European supercomputers and big data infrastructure.