European Union unveils supercomputer plan to rival China

13 countries have formally signed up to the initiative, launched in March a year ago, to develop computers that can perform at least a hundred quadrillion (that's a million billion) calculations per second. 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.

While presenting the Euro High Performance Computing (EuroHPC) initiative, Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, stressed that the project is a key initiative for the EU Digital Single Market.

Brussels says it will help develop artificial intelligence and applications to improve health, security and engineering, plus help forecast hurricane routes and simulate earthquakes. They can help us to develop personalised medicine, save energy and fight against climate change more efficiently.

The EU will contribute €486 million via the current Multiannual Financial Framework and the rest of the €1 billion will come from member and associated states. The research and innovation programme will 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 HPC.

The cash will be spent developing machines that carry out a billion billion calculations per second. It also said it is beneficial for preventing and managing large-scale disasters, specifically noting the paths of hurricanes and quake simulations. So far Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland have signed up to be part of the scheme.

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

Although the €1 billion investment is only created to extend out to 2020, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking is supposed to remain operational until the end of 2026, which presumably will require another round of investments. For example, auto production cycles can be reduced thanks to supercomputers from 60 months to 24 months.

According to the Commission, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking is expected to operate between 2019 and 2026 and will be owned and operated by the countries that sign the EuroHPC declaration. The project is open for other member states and private partners to join.

At present, only 13 Member States out of 28 signed the EuroHPC declaration, which main objective is to have the EU's supercomputers in the global top 3 ranking by 2022-2023.

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