The Supercomputing – "HPC" field is in a global competition, where the United States, Japan and China are leading an Exascale race. HPC is considered strategic for industrial and scientific research, but also for homeland security. The aforementioned countries have presented roadmaps towards the Exascale computer, supported by considerable budget allocations.
If Europe doesn’t want to be left behind and be dominated by foreign technology, it needs to develop an entire domestic exascale stack from the processor all the way to the system and application software. Europe has the competence and skills to engage in this race, including hardware and architecture design. For example the Barcelona Supercomputing Center has a long history in HPC architecture design and development of the entire software HPC ecosystem. ARM processor architecture -a European invention- is used worldwide. A European HPC domestic ecosystem could profit from all this experience provided adequate funding is made available.
A window of opportunity for the HPC development is now open. Maybe Europe needs a flagship project (such as the Human Brain project or Graphene) towards Exascale computing. The benefits will result in better industrial platforms, but they will also transcend the industry field and influence other dimensions. HPC can enable scientific breakthroughs that may have tremendous impact on society and industry. It can lead to a major potential stimulus for the creation of new jobs and opportunities for the European citizens. Last, but not least, with HPC domestic technology, Europe will not depend any longer on entirely foreign products. Strong public funding, coupled with private and public partnerships for disruptive research and innovative development, will lead to more competitiveness within the global race and more security in a world where cyber-attacks and threats to privacy are becoming common.
Europe has expressed interest in joining this global race in the past. The European Commission President, Jean Paul Juncker, expressed last October that “Our goal is for Europe to become one of the top 3 world leaders in high-performance computing by 2020”. In a similar tone, Commissioner Oettinger claimed, this past January, to be convinced “that Europe has a unique opportunity to act and invest in the development and deployment of High Performance Computing (HPC) technology, Big Data and applications to ensure the competitiveness of its research and its industries”.
As a member of the European Computer Science community, I welcome the strategy for the digital transformation of the industry announced by Commissioner Oettinger. I agree with Commissioner Oettinger that there is an “urgent need for European industry to take the necessary steps in order to fully benefit from the opportunities of the digital single market. However, for this transformation to be sustainable, Europe needs to strengthen the fundamental research on which digital transformation is based and a stronger European High Performance Computing (HPC) ecosystem.