European Union plans €1bn supercomputer push

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The EU's contribution to the project, matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries, is mainly aimed at speeding up the digitalization of the economy and securing Europe's global competiveness in research and innovation. Private entities are also able to make contributions.

The European Commission's proposal claims that European institutions and businesses are now at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting their sensitive data. Various reasons have been cited for the creation of the supercomputer, including privacy, data protection, commercial trade secrets, and ownership of data, but it another instance of Europe trying to remove any dependence on other regions. 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.

These computers will aid the development of artificial intelligence and function to improve health, security and engineering.

"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".

The EuroHPC joint undertaking will be operational in 2019-2026.

The initial €486 million to be contributed by the EC represents a significant increase over the amount that was previously being considered. "Our progress report on the European HPC strategy, done for the Commission, contained a related recommendation".

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The EU says it is "behind" when it comes to supercomputers, and plans to invest $1.2 billion in at least four of the machines.

When it comes to manufacturing, the European Union is also keen to increase productivity.

To give you an idea of how far behind, China has the world's fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, with 93 petaflops (93 million billion floating point operations per second) of computing power. The current European HPC strategy provides no clear path for doing this. Despite the EU's ambitions, China has said it plans to have an exascale computer ready in 2018, five years before the EU.

In a statement laying out its plans, the Commission said initial work would concentrate on developing machines that match the computational capacities of the world's most powerful machines.

"Supercomputers are the engines to power the digital economy", he said.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society commented: '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".