Developing supercomputers in Europe

Briefing 24-10-2017

A number of companies, universities and start-ups are racing to develop the fastest supercomputer in global rankings. So far China, Switzerland and the USA occupy the top four places in this regard, while the EU does not feature in the top 10. To address the situation, the European Commission has launched, as part of its European cloud strategy, a target plan to acquire and develop European high-performance computers that would rank among the world's top three by 2022. This would allow European science and technology actors to regain competitive advantage. Supercomputers are increasingly needed to exploit big data and facilitate scientific discoveries that need large computational efforts, such as materials science, artificial intelligence technologies, climate modeling and cryptography. As no single EU Member State has the capacity to develop this on its own, the Commission aims to launch an initiative on the scale of Airbus and, more recently, Galileo, to develop a European data-infrastructure ecosystem in high-performance computing. This has been set as a target in the European digital single market mid-term review, and it has also been established as a goal in the EuroHPC Declaration, which was signed during the first half of 2017 by nine Member States and more are expected. In addition, the Commission has an ambitious €1 billion flagship initiative on quantum technology in place, which will also contribute to the development of quantum supercomputers in the longer term. Expected to surpass traditional supercomputers, the new ones could dramatically improve the technology used in communication, computing and sensing, as well as and in other areas.