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EuroHPC – Europe's Path to Exascale

Erwin Laure, PDC

The race towards Exascale (that is, achieving 1018 floating point operations per second) is accelerating and concrete plans are underway in the US, Japan, and China. For some time, Europe was lagging behind and did not have an overarching strategy backed by all the countries in the EU. This changed in November 2018 with the establishment of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking ( ). EuroHPC is a joint initiative between the EU and European countries to develop a World Class Supercomputing Ecosystem in Europe. Today, 28 member and associate countries of the EU are part of this initiative and Sweden offcially joined on the 5th of February 2019, represented by the Swedish Research Council (VR). EuroHPC, which will initially be operational until 2026, has already defined its first phase (covering 2019 and 2020) with a budget of close to 1 billion EUR, of which 486 million come from the actions already planned by the European Commission in the Horizon 2020 and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programmes. Two main aims have been defined for this first phase.

  • The first is acquiring and providing a world-class petascale and pre-exascale supercomputing and data infrastructure for Europe's academic, industrial and public users, matching their demanding application requirements by 2020. This would be widely available to users from both the public and private sectors, to be used primarily for research purposes.

  • The second aim involves supporting an ambitious research and innovation agenda to develop and maintain a world-class high performance computing (HPC) ecosystem in the EU, both exascale and beyond, which would cover all academic and industrial value chain segments, including low-power processor and middleware technologies, algorithms and code design, applications and systems, services and engineering, interconnections, know-how and skills for the next generation supercomputing era.

Timelines indicating the planned acquisition processes for EuroHPC pre-exascale and petascale systems

Further funds in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), together with support from member states, are expected to cover the 2021-2028 period, with already agreed strategic objectives, including

  • the acquisition in 2022-2023 of two exascale systems, at least one of them with European technology,

  • one post-exascale system,

  • networking and coordination of HPC Competence Centres,

  • support for the first hybrid HPC/Quantum computing infrastructure in Europe, and

  • coordination with the other digital priorities like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and digital skills.

The Commission has proposed supporting EuroHPC in the next MFF with 2.7 billion EUR from the Digital Europe Programme (DEP) and with additional funds from Horizon Europe. These funds are expected to be matched by the member states resulting in an overall budget of over 5 billion EUR.

In a first step, EuroHPC is planning the acquisition of two pre-exascale systems, reaching a performance of 150 petaflops with a total cost of ownership of up to 250 million EUR. A call for hosting entities (HEs) has recently closed and three consortia are competing: a Spanish-led consortium proposing the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) as the host, an Italian-led consortium putting CINECA (which is the Italian interuniversity high performance computing consortium) forward as the host, and a Finnish-led consortium supporting a data centre in Kajaani run by CSC (which is the Finnish IT Center for Science) as the host. Sweden, together with other countries, has joined the Finnish bid. If that particular bid is successful, the equivalent share of the system will be made available to Swedish researchers via the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC). EuroHPC is expected to make a decision in June and then the procurement process for the systems will start, with the aim being to have them available for researchers in late 2020.

As far as the research programme, EuroHPC will launch the first calls for HPC technologies soon. A key focus of the research programme will be the continued development of European exascale technologies (including the European Processor Initiative), application support, and support for small to medium- sized enterprises (SMEs).