Europe begins supercomputer plan


A swarm of new supercomputers is coming to the old world, courtesy of the European Commission (EC).

A funding structure called the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will be responsible for building and deploying the mighty modern things across the continent, while supporting a research programme that will hopefully lead to the development of fresh hardware and software.

Very nice. Sounds expensive. How much is this going cost? The EC is chucking a mighty €486 million into the EuroHPC pot, which will apparently be match-funded by the European Union’s member states – meaning, in theory, that around €1 billion will be put towards the scheme by 2020.

Private members of the initiative, whoever they may be, could also, according to the EC’s press release, stump up ‘in kind contributions’.

Anyway, they already have a bit of a shopping list, which includes the purchase of two ‘world-class pre-exascale supercomputing machines and at least two mid-range supercomputing machines’. Hopefully, they won’t be used for evil like Richard Pryor’s massive computer in Superman III, but it would obviously be cool if they were built in a remote mountain cave.

The machines will be cable of 10,000,000,000,000,0000 calculations a second, which I would’ve thought should be ample to calculate Nigel Farage’s pension payments, and public and private users will be allowed to play with the marvels from 2020.

The rest of the money will be spent on developing things such as the ‘first generation of European low-power microprocessor technology,’ which I think sounds quite exciting, specially if they can manage to build some that aren’t riddled with major security flaws.

The EC reckons that high-performance computing (HPC) is a ‘critical tool for understanding and responding to major scientific and societal challenges, such as early detection and treatment of diseases or developing new therapies based on personalised and precision medicine’.

Furthermore, the HPC scheme could be used to help mitigate and manage natural disasters, like hurricanes and earthquakes. Maybe Brexit?

Andrus Ansip, EC 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.’

Here’s the full press release, which is well worth a read as it no doubt contains interesting and useful details that I have failed to include in this story.

Europe begins supercomputer plan

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