European Council embraces IPCEI for HPC and Big Data - Could mean billions of euros for a supercomputing project that has as yet unclear goals
30 Jun 2016 Brussels - In its meeting of June 28 the European Council, the highest body in the European Union, is calling for swift and determined progress in "coordinating EU efforts on high-performance computing. In this context the European Council looks forward to the launch of an important project of common European interest in this field". This project for HPC and Big Data, also known under its abbreviation IPCEI-HPC-BDA, was announced in Luxembourg about half a year ago. Not much is known of the project, except that the countries Luxembourg, France, Italy and Spain are involved and that it is endorsed by the European Commission in January. It seemed to be focused on HPC and Big Data applications back then.
Since then we published an interview with Antonio Zoccoli from INFN, who explained the IPCEI project, emphasizing it was a project about scientific supercomputing, and not so much industrial-oriented.
How the IPCEI project fits in the overall plans of the European Commission for exascale supercomputing is not yet clear. Whether there will be more countries involved, especially important European countries from North and East Europe, is not known either.
For CEA in France it is clear: according to Jean Gonnord, who is responsible for numerical simulation at CEA, the goal of the IPCEI HPC and Big Data is to create an "Airbus" for supercomputing in Europe. In an interview with L'Usine Digitale, he says:
"Spain, Italy, Luxembourg and France want to create an Airbus for high-performance computing in Europe. A consortium of stakeholders (storage, processors) will have to group themselves around the French Bull (Atos) - the only European company capable of producing that type of computer."