EU launches RM4.8b supercomputing plan without UK

LONDON • The European Union (EU) will spend €1 billion (RM4.78 billion) to try to catch up to China, the US and Japan in supercomputing, the European Commission said yesterday.

But as the initiative launches, uncertainty over Brexit is creating anxiety among British computer scientists that the UK may miss out on opportunities from the plan.

The goal of the project is for Europe to acquire two “world-class” supercomputers, capable of at least a hundred million billion calculations per second, and at least two mid-range systems, capable of tens of millions of billions of calculations per second, by 2020. The EuroHPC initiative was launched in March last year, with funding specifics unveiled yesterday.

These machines are stepping stones toward the ultimate goal of the effort, which is to create a next generation “exascale” system — capable of performing at least one billion billion mathematical calculations per second — “based on EU technology” by 2022.

The Commission called the initiative “crucial for the EU’s competitiveness and independence in the data economy”.

The EU itself will provide €486 million for the project by 2020, with a similar amount coming from individual members states and “associated countries” that sign up for the project. The Commission said private entities, such as companies, could also join the effort and provide “in kind contributions”.

Since it was launched in March last year, 13 countries have formally signed up: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.

Currently, the top two fastest supercomputers are in China, with the US and Japan dominating the most of the rest of the top 10. — Bloomberg