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Commission proposes to invest €1 billion in world-class European #supercomputers

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The European Commission has unveiled its plans to invest jointly with member states in building a world-class European supercomputers infrastructure.

Supercomputers are needed to process ever larger amounts of data and bring benefits to society in many areas from health care and renewable energy to car safety and cybersecurity.

The step is crucial for the EU's competitiveness and independence in the data economy. Today, European scientists and industry increasingly process their data outside the EU because their needs are not matched by the computation time or computer performance available in the EU. This lack of independence threatens privacy, data protection, commercial trade secrets, and ownership of data in particular for sensitive applications.

A new legal and funding structure – the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking – shall acquire, build and deploy across Europe a world-class High-Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructure. It will also support a research and innovation programme to develop the technologies and machines (hardware) as well as the applications (software) that would run on these supercomputers.

The EU's contribution in EuroHPC will be around €486 million under the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), matched by a similar amount from member states and associated countries. Overall, around €1 billion of public funding would be invested by 2020, and private members of the initiative would also add in kind contributions.

European Commission Vice President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip 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."

Digital Economy and Society Commissioner Mariya Gabriel added: "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 personalized 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 digitization of industry and increasing the competitiveness of the European economy."

Benefits of supercomputing

High-Performance Computing 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. HPC is also used for preventing and managing large-scale natural disasters, notably for forecasting the paths which hurricanes are following or for earthquake simulations.

The EuroHPC infrastructure will provide European industry and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a better access to supercomputers to develop innovative products. The use of High Performance Computing has a growing impact on industries and businesses by significantly reducing product design and production cycles, accelerating the design of new materials, minimising costs, increasing resource efficiency and shortening and optimising decision processes. For example, car production cycles can be reduced thanks to supercomputers from 60 months to 24 months.

High-Performance Computing is also essential for national security and defence, for example when developing complex encryption technologies, tracking and responding to cyberattacks, deploying efficient forensics or in nuclear simulations.

Research and innovation matched with infrastructure

Today's initiative will pool investments to establish leading European supercomputers and big data infrastructure. The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking aims to acquire systems with pre-exascale performance (a hundred million billion or 1017 calculations per second), and support the development of exascale (a billion billion or 1018 calculations per second), performance systems based on EU technology, by 2022-2023.

The activities of the Joint Undertaking will consist of:

  1. Acquisition and operation of two world-class pre-exascale supercomputing machines and at least two mid-range supercomputing machines (capable of around 1016 calculations per second), and providing and managing access to these supercomputers to a wide range of public and private users starting from 2020.
  2. Research and innovation programme on HPC: to support the development of European supercomputing technology including the first generation of European low-power microprocessor technology, and the co-design of European exascale machines, and to foster applications, skills development and a wider use of High-Performance Computing.

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will operate in 2019-2026. The planned infrastructure will be jointly owned and operated by its members consisting at first of the countries that have signed the EuroHPC declaration (list below) and private members from academia and industry. Other members can join this cooperation at any moment, provided their financial contribution.

Background

Since 2012, the Commission drives EU initiatives in this field, including:

  • The European Cloud Initiative of 19 April 2016, as part of its Digitizing European Industry strategy, called for creating a leading European Big Data ecosystem, underpinned by a world-class HPC, data and network infrastructure, and;
  • the EuroHPC declaration, signed on 23 March 2017 at the Digital Day in Rome by seven member states – France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. They were joined during 2017 by Belgium, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Greece and Croatia. These countries agreed to build a pan-European integrated exascale supercomputing infrastructure. Other member states and associated countries are encouraged to sign the EuroHPC declaration.

More information

Questions and Answers

Factsheet with examples of the use of HPC and other relevant documents

High-Performance Computing and EuroHPC initiative 

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Cheaper phone calls among EU countries, a reality from today

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From today, Wednesday 15 May, phone calls among EU member states will be cheaper thanks to the European Electronic Communication Code, adopted by the European Parliament in November last year.   

The new law, caps the price of calls at a maximum of 19 eurocents for both mobile and fixed calls (so-called ‘intra-EU calls’) and it also caps SMS at a maximum of 6 eurocents.  The adoption of this regulation was the next step after the EU abolished roaming costs in 2017, which already capped calls and texts to national rates while roaming in other EU countries.

Asked to comment, Vice-Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee MEP Dita Charanzová said:  “I am proud of what we have achieved for European consumers. Rates have been unjustly high for too long. We are one Union and there was no logical reason for these costs. I hope this will be the end of bill-shock in Europe.”

In addition to Intra-EU calls, the new law also includes more long-term and principled measures. Starting from 2020, every European citizen will have a right to an affordable broadband internet connection. The law requires each European country to ensure, through either a voucher or a social tariff, that low income or disadvantage citizens can afford an internet connection.

“Internet must be seen as a utility. Just as we would not deny access to electricity or gas or water, no one should be denied access to the internet just because they are disadvantaged,” added Charanzová.

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#Denmark commits to joining #EuroHPC Joint Undertaking

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Denmark has announced that it will become a founding member of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.

Map showing signatories to declaration and as list

Denmark has confirmed its commitments towards the European Joint Undertaking for High Performance Computing (EuroHPC JU), with the firm intention of joining this legal entity once it is formally adopted by the Council of the European Union.

The EuroHPC JU will pool European and national resources to establish a world-class high performance computing (HPC, also known as supercomputing) and data infrastructure, and a competitive HPC ecosystem, by acquiring and operating world-class high-performance computers and also by building in Europe key technology blocks (from low power processor up to systems architecture), software tools and applications. The aim is to put Europe in the HPC world top three by 2022-2023.

European Commission Digital Single Market Vice President Andrus Ansip and Digital Economy and Society Commissioner Mariya Gabriel welcomed the commitment made by Denmark: "It is with great pleasure that we welcome Denmark into this ambitious European initiative. By aligning our European and national strategies and pooling resources and knowledge, we will be able to develop European high performance computing technologies and applications and integrate them into a vibrant ecosystem.  The development of a world-class supercomputing infrastructure in Europe will allow a wide range of scientific and industrial users to access computing simulations and big data analysis. This will facilitate cutting-edge life science research for new drugs development and personalized medicine. Supercomputer capabilities will also help researchers in areas like weather prediction, climate modelling and renewable energy, to create, for example, models for how the wind moves around a wind turbine blade."

The Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science, Tommy Ahlers, added: "The rapid increase in volume of data creates new prospects for research and innovation, and it is vital for Europe to be a front-runner in this regard. We need to pool our resources in order to create the most viable and competitive solutions. High Performance Computing will be a central infrastructure for future research and excellent Danish scientists and businesses are ready to contribute to the development of this new ecosystem. I am pleased to sign the declaration making Denmark an establishing member state of the European co-operation on High Performance Computing. Personally, I am truly excited to follow the coming work of the EuroHPC."

The EuroHPC JU total budget is around EUR 1 billion. Half of the funding will be provided by the European Commission, and half by European countries. There will also be in-kind contributions from private partners. The goal of the JU will be to acquire systems with pre-exascale performance  by 2020, and to support the development of exascale (a billion billion or 1018 calculations per second) systems based on European technology by 2022-2023. It will also work to fostering applications and skills development and the wider use of high performance computing. The JU is due to begin operations before the end of this year.

Uses of high performance computing

High performance computing is already improving people’s lives in sectors such as healthcare, weather, clean energy, precision agriculture and cybersecurity. For example, in medicine, by using data processing technologies with information about a person’s genes, proteins, and environment to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, it is possible to provide better and personalised treatments at lower cost. Supercomputers are also used to support the discovery of new drugs or for understanding the functioning of the human brain and its diseases.

In cybersecurity and defence, supercomputers are used for developing efficient encryption technologies, understanding and responding to cyberattacks or in nuclear simulations; scientists also use their computing power to study climate change and for weather prediction. They can predict the path and the effects of devastating storms and can save lives and limit the economic consequences.

More information on the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking

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#Estonia joins European initiative to develop #Supercomputers

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Estonia has signed the European declaration on high-performance computing (HPC) with the aim to pool European and national resources to build and deploy world-class supercomputers that would be ranked in the world's top-three by 2022-2023. Digital Single Market Vice President Andrus Ansip attended the signing ceremony in Tartu, Estonia.

With this signature, Estonia marks its intention to join the European co-operation on supercomputing – the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking that was proposed by the European Commission in January. The vice president welcomed Estonia's signature and said: "Supercomputers are becoming the engine of our economy, fuelled by large amounts of data. The EU is currently lagging behind: we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top ten. This is why we have launched the EuroHPC initiative."

High-performance computing is needed to process ever larger amounts of data and help researchers make scientific breakthroughs in many areas from healthcare and renewable energy to car safety and cybersecurity. The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, which is due to begin operations before the end of this year, will cover the whole value chain from technology components to systems and machines, and to applications and skills. It will offer expertise and training with a particular focus on helping small and medium-sized companies. The EU's contribution in the cooperation project will be around €486 million under the current EU budget, which should be matched by a similar amount from member states and associated countries.

Further details are available here.

More information on enhanced co-operation in the EU is available here.

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