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Digital Agenda: Plan to make EU the world leader in High-Performance Computing

European Commission - IP/12/139   15/02/2012

Other available languages: FR DE

European Commission - Press release

Digital Agenda: Plan to make EU the world leader in High-Performance Computing

Brussels, 15 February 2012 – High Performance Computing (HPC) is critical for industries that rely on precision and speed, such as automotive and aviation, and the health sector. Access to rapid simulations carried out by ever-improving super computers can be the difference between life and death; between new jobs and profits or bankruptcy. Hospitals in Germany use HPC to avoid last-minute decisions during childbirth, while analysis of 3D brain imaging through HPC has allowed much earlier diagnosis of disease. HPC has enabled car makers to develop new vehicle platforms in 2 years rather than 5 years, saving the European car industry up to €40 billion. 97 % of the industrial companies that employ HPC consider it indispensable for their ability to innovate, compete and survive.

For these reasons, the Commission today sets out a plan for the EU to reverse its relative decline in HPC use and capabilities. Under this plan the EU will double its investment in HPC (from €630 million to €1.2 billion) and become home to computers that can perform 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (i.e. 1018) operations per second ("exa-scale"), before 2020. Half of the investment would be for development and training and for new centres of excellence, creating thousands of jobs.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda, said: "High Performance Computing is a crucial enabler for European industry and for more jobs in Europe. It’s investments like HPC that deliver innovations improving daily life. We’ve got to invest smartly in this field because we cannot afford to leave it to our competitors.”

Specifically, the Commission's plan will substantially strengthen HPC in Europe by:

  • Strengthening PRACE as the leading pan-European HPC e-infrastructure, pooling national and EU funds to service academic and industrial research

  • Creating a workforce adequately trained in HPC

  • Stimulating the market for HPC in Europe by supporting more acquisitions of HPC systems and services and faster uptake of HPC by industry and SMEs

  • Encouraging Member States to jointly procure leading edge HPC systems in order to share costs

  • Establishing centres of excellence for software in scientific fields like energy, life-sciences and climate

  • Supporting the HPC Industry and research to maintain an independent and state-of-the-art EU supply chain through research and Innovation funding and pre-commercial procurement

  • Working to ensure that the EU HPC industry has fair access to global markets

Some interesting facts

A super computer can cost more than 100 million to build and 20 million to maintain each year.

The world’s largest super computers are more powerful than 130 000 laptops.

The world’s largest super computers can take up to 1,000 m2 space. Moreover, the building hosting the world's fastest HPC system takes up 10,500 m2 plus another 2,100 m2 for necessary chillers.

Europe’s most powerful supercomputers according to the Top 500 supercomputer ranking of November 2011 are the system Tera-100 in France (№ 9) and the HERMIT and JUGENE systems (№ 12 and 13) in Germany. As of 13 February 2012, the top European supercomputer is CURIE of GENCI, located at CEA in France, according to information supplied the French government.

Background

Ensuring Europe maintains sufficient ICT infrastructures to support innovation is a priority of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). At a macroeconomic level, returns on investment in HPC are very high - the companies and countries that invest the most in HPC lead in science and economic success. Advances in the area of HPC such as new computing technologies, software, energy efficiency, storage applications, etc. feed into the broader ICT industry and the consumer mass market, becoming available in households within five years of their introduction in HPC. Conversely, advanced computing technologies developed for the consumer domain (e.g. energy-efficient chips, graphic cards processors) are increasingly used in HPC.

Securing high-quality jobs and growth in Europe requires building on the achievements of PRACE to further increase coordination between the actors in terms of governance and acquisition of supercomputing capacity.

Useful links

Communication on "High-Performance Computing": Europe's place in a Global Race"

PRACE - Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe

Digital Agenda website

Neelie Kroes' website

Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter

Contacts :

Ryan Heath (+32 2 296 17 16), Twitter: @ECspokesRyan

Linda Cain (+32 2 299 90 19)


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