8 billion euro funding for EuroHPC Phase 2 explained

21 Sep 2020 Almere - From its virtual 4m below sealevel studio in AlmerePrimeur Magazinereported about the new EuroHPC regulation, announced by the European Commission. The EuroHPC second phase will be funded with 8 billion euro. Ursula von der Leyen, Margrethe Vestager and Thierry Breton explained how the money will cover and support the planning.

The European Commission very recently organized three press conferences about the new EuroHPC regulation. European Commission Chair Ursula von der Leyen presented in a part of her State of the Union the 8 billion euro investment in EuroHPC for the next generation of supercomputers. European industry will develop a micro-processor of the next generation to manage the ever-growing data deluge in an energy-efficient manner.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, responsible for Digital Age, recalled that in October 2018, the European Commission, together with the Member States and private contributors, funded 1,5 billion euro in the first phase of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking for high-performance computing. The goal now is to scale up and to continue this ambition in the next Financial Framework with a total of 8 billion euro to invest in this digital capacity. Margrethe Vestager explained that supercomputers support the health sector by creating a digital human twin in order to stimulate trillions of processes and molecules in the human body to advance treatments, tackle diseases or viruses, and improve diagnostics.

One can use supercomputers to investigate options and designs of efficient Earth system modelling in what is called the Planet Earth twin. This will inform and advise policy making and it will help us to find solutions in the fight against climate change. Supercomputers can support businesses to innovate, to test and to scale up to much beyond what we have today.

Margrethe Vestager also explained for what type of applications high-performance computing is needed and why we need to invest in this. One of the things she mentioned are the digital twins, not only digital twins to have a copy of yourself in the computer so that researchers can try out drugs before administering them to the patient, but also a digital twin of the whole planet. To perform this, you really need a large amount of computing power.

The Commissioner predicted a nice future for supercomputing. The third speaker was Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Digital Europe. He went into still more detail about what EuroHPC is planning to do in the next Framework Programme. One of his main messages was that we need European sovereignty in technology. That is why the European micro-processor initiative is very close at his heart. He also mentioned that Europe will be in the top 5 of most powerful institutions.

Ad Emmen fromPrimeur Magazineshowed what will happen in phase 2 of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking. In the current 1,5 billion euro phase that will end in 2020 for the financing, acquisition of 5 petascale and 3 pre-exascale systems was achieved. These machines will be operational in 2021 and run for a few years. In the second phase there will be two stages. In the first one, in 2021/2022, there will be the acquisition of the first 2 exascale systems in Europe. They will be hosted in Germany and France. France already has a bureau working on the acquisition. In Germany, the Jülich Supercomputing Center is a strong candidate to host such an exascale system.

Apart from the exascale systems, there will also be the acquisition of several pre-exascale systems ranging from 100 to 200 petaflops in 2021/2022, somewhat similar to the current petascale systems in price but with a higher performance.

In 2025, a new acquisition period will start probably. This still has to be decided. The idea is to purchase a post-exascale system of 10 exaflops or another exascale system, or maybe both, depending on the money that is available as well as on the technical status of the market.

The budget has been planned until 2027. However, there will be budget allocated to the operation of the systems until 2033. This will come from the 2026/2027 budget. The bills will be paid till what is now foreseen to be the end of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking in 2033. It is likely, however, that there will be new budget available in 2028. It could also be that the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will be extended once more.

The 8 billion euro investment will be provided by three parties. The European Union will fund 3,5 billion euro. The participating Member States will be responsible for another 3,5 billion euro. Last but not least, private industry will allocate 1 billion euro. On average, this is one billion euro per year.

To put the 8 billion euro into perspective, one can compare the amount with the 40 billion dollar amount for the recent acquisition of Arm by NVIDIA. The European investment only represents 20 percent or one fifth compared to this amount of money so only modest goals can be achieved. The EC's goal is to have European sovereignty in hardware but if we look at TSMC which is producing chips, they promised the United States to open a chip factory in the US estimated at 10 billion dollar. So, 8 billion euro is a large amount of money but compared to global investments still quite moderate.

You can also check outPrimeur Magazine's recent reporting of the official EC announcement.

Ad Emmen