Ministers from seven European countries met in Rome on the 23th of March to sign a declaration on a cooperation framework on High Performance Computing (HPC). This new EuroHPC cooperation is expected to give the European technological and industrial cooperation a new impulse, after the success of Airbus and the ongoing development of Galileo, the European GPS.
To this day, only 5% of High Performance Computers are located in the EU. The European Commission already pointed out this noteworthy technological lag of the European industry in its April 2016 “European Cloud Initiative”, where it urges Member States to act and cooperate in the field of HPC. This initiative sets an ambitious goal: to have at least one exascale European supercomputer in the global top 3. Germany, Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands believe it is not only possible but necessary to the scientific and industrial development. They estimate in the EuroHPC declaration that this new cooperation will allow the set up of exascale supercomputers by 2022. They also underline that any other European country is welcome to join “at any time”.
Such technology would allow remarkable progress in the fields of medicine, communications, online financial transactions, and even energy production through more accurate weather forecasting and better smart grids. The development of a European HPC would benefit both the European scientific community and private partners. These new facilities will be accessible to all, regardless of their country of location.
Andrus Ansip, the European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, congratulated the members of this new cooperation, calling it a “great step forward”. This initiative exactly follows the EU strategy for HPC that was laid out by the Commission in a February 2012 communication. This new EuroHPC cooperation will directly benefit from some of the €700 million invested by the Commission in Public Private Partnership (PPP) on HPC research. These public funds will be allocated from the Horizon 2020 programme budget. Participating Member States are also expected to contribute.
The EuroHPC declaration is good news. It addresses the future of the European research and the competitiveness of the industry. Europe must not lag behind its competitors, and individual Member States are not always big enough to develop such technologies. European cooperation has already lead to great technological and commercial successes in the past. Airbus is now seen as a European champion and a world class player. A new Airbus-sized alliance for supercomputers would put Europe back on the map in this sector as well.
Bulletin Quotidien Europe 11752, “La Commission présente un nouveau cadre d’interopérabilité européen ». 24/3/2017, Agence Europe