European Union launches €1bn supercomputing project to rival China

Marko Ahtisaari  Flickr

Europe is planning to spend €1 billion (£890 million) on supercomputers that "bring benefits to society", according to an announcement on the European Commission's website. "Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy", said Ansip. "We can not risk being dependent on third countries for these computers", she said.

The fastest supercomputer in the world is the Sunway TaihuLight, which is located in China and has over 10 million computer cores.

The European Commission's made a decision to throw €486 million at high performance computers.

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The European Commission has proposed allocating €1bn in the upcoming EU budget to build two supercomputers capable of a quintillion calculations per second, as well as another two mid-range machines.

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 resulting computer could perform one billion billion calculations per second.

Under the new initiative, called EuroHPC Joint Undertaking which is crucial for the EU's competitiveness and independence in the data economy, totally around 1 billion euros of public funding would be invested by 2020 to acquire, build and deploy across Europe a world-class High-Performance Computing (HPC) infrastructure. And since HPC is increasing seen as a critical driver to economic performance and societal advancement, Europe has as much at stake in this regard as any other leading economy.

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Clifton did, however, tell Bloomberg that the United Kingdom has been taking "an active part in development" and whether the country would sign up to the initiative "is an open question".

Simon McIntosh-Smith, a computer scientist at the University of Bristol, told Bloomberg: "Brexit has thrown a lot of uncertainty around the UK's participation and it is really unfortunate and causing delay and confusion". It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: "we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top-ten", Andrus Ansip, European Commission VP for the Digital Single Market, said.

"With the EuroHPC (European High-Performance Computing) initiative we want to give European researchers and companies world-leading supercomputer capacity by 2020 - to develop technologies such as artificial intelligence".

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The EC plan san investment of 486 million euros, to which will be added a similar amount contributed by 13 European states (France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia and Switzerland). "They can help us to develop personalized medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently".

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