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Europe to spend €1bn on supercomputers and big data infrastructure

Four machines on the slate, at almost-exascale and beyond, to nourish local industry

By Simon Sharwood

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The European Commission’s decided to throw €486 million at high performance computers.

The Commission expects that member states will chip in another €500m-plus for a total spend of over €1 billion by the year 2020.

All that moolah will be spent on at least four supercomputers, research efforts to develop their hardware and software, plus plans to develop a another and faster super by 2022-2023.

The four supers will comprise a pair of “pre-exascale” machines capable of 1017 calculations per second, plus at least two smaller machines that limp along at 1016 calculations per second. The Commission’s plans call for the future machine to hit 1018 calculations per second.

The research effort will include “the development of … the first generation of European low-power microprocessor technology”.

Collectively known as the “EuroHPC infrastructure”, the effort has three motivators. One is the obvious utility of supercomputers. The second is that the Commission has identified a lack of HPC resources within European borders. That scarcity means Euro-boffins head offshore to get the time and grunt they need. The Commission would rather they can stay on the continent, hence the investment.

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 Commission noted that individual European nations can’t make a market acting alone, so the continental effort is required to both match rivals elsewhere and give local industry a leg-up. ®

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