Estonia joins European initiative to develop supercomputers
Estonia yesterday become the 21st European country to sign the European declaration on high-performance computing.
The aim is 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.
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.
Mailis Reps, Estonian Minister of Education and Research, signed the EuroHPC declaration in Tartu, Estonia, in the presence of Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market.
With this signature, Estonia marks its intention to join the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking proposed by the European Commission, once it is formally adopted by the Council of the European Union in September.
European Commission VicePresident Ansip welcomed Estonia’s signature: “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. Estonia cannot reach the top alone, and we need to work together at EU level. This is why we have launched the EuroHPC initiative. It will give Estonian researchers, public administration and companies access to world-leading supercomputer capacity – to develop and use technologies such as artificial intelligence and build new applications in areas like health, security and engineering.”
Signing the declaration, Estonian Minister Mailis Reps said: “The initiative broadens opportunities for Estonia’s society, as the research capacity increases, and allows to develop areas that we even may not be able to imagine today. Although Estonia’s researchers are already internationally recognized and thorough cooperation with foreign institutions has been established, this initiative surely opens up new levels of cooperation and competence sharing. I am confident that Estonia’s researchers and their counterparts are maximizing this opportunity for the greater good.”
The EuroHPC Joint Undertak- ing, 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.
Benefits of supercomputing
High-performance computing is a critical tool for understanding and responding to major scientific and societal challenges, such as the early detection and treatment of diseases and the development of new therapies based on personalised and precision medicine. High-performance computing is also used for preventing and managing large-scale natural disasters, notably for forecasting the paths of hurricanes or for earthquake simulations.
The EuroHPC infrastructure will provide European industry and in particular small and mediumsized enterprises with better access to supercomputers to develop innovative products. The use of high-performance computing is having a growing impact on 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 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 and in nuclear simulations.
The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will pool investments to establish leading European supercomputers and big data infrastructure. The Joint Undertaking aims to acquire systems with pre-exascale performance (a hundred million billion or 1017 calculations per second) by 2020, and support the development of exascale (a billion billion or 1018calculations per second) performance systems based on European technology by 20222023.
The EU’s contribution in EuroHPC will be around €486 million under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, which should be matched by a similar amount from Member States and associated countries. Overall, around €1 billion of public funding is planned to be invested by 2020, and private members of the initiative will also add in-kind contributions (of around €400 million). The Commission has proposed to increase this amount under the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027), to make sure that the EU becomes and remains at the forefront of technological development (€2.7 billion proposed under the Digital Europe Programme).
The activities of the Joint Undertaking will consist of:
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.
Research and innovation programme on high-performance computing: 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 across the economy and society.
The planned infrastructure will be jointly owned and operated by the members of the Joint Undertaking consisting at first of the countries that have signed the EuroHPC declaration and private members from academia and industry.
Other Member States or countries associated to the EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020can join, provided that they contribute to the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.
Countries that have signed the EuroHPC declaration: 21
European countries, including 20 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain Sweden) and Switzerland have signed the EuroHPC declaration. Latvia has also committed to becoming a founding member of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.