Before the summer break, we reached an important milestone in the creation of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU). We secured positive opinions on the Commission’s proposed Regulation establishing the JU from the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Parliament, and the endorsement of the Council of Ministers. The EuroHPC JU Regulation will now be formally adopted at the Competitiveness Council on 27-28 September and the JU will be created. Its headquarters will be in Luxembourg.
In the meantime, the number of countries set to join the JU has been increasing: Latvia and Estonia have been the latest to join, bringing the total number of signatory countries to 22, and we expect a few more to join during September. EuroHPC already enjoys broad support at national level across Europe, and will no doubt remain among the main digital priorities for the next 8-10 years. In 2019 and 2020 we expect around one billion Euros of public investment (half from the Commission and half from the participating countries), with an additional 420 million Euros from private partners.
These financial resources will be used to launch activities structured around two main pillars:
- an Infrastructure pillar, including activities for the acquisition, deployment, interconnection, operation and access time management of world-class supercomputing and data infrastructures;
- a Research and Innovation (R&I) pillar, including activities to establish an innovation ecosystem addressing hardware and software supercomputing technologies and their integration into exascale supercomputing systems, advanced applications, services and tools, skills and know-how.
The EU financial contribution to the JU comes from the current financial framework (2014-2020) and mainly from the Horizon 2020 budget.
This means that the Horizon 2020 budget planned for HPC activities in 2019-2020 will be transferred to the JU, and the respective Horizon 2020 calls will be cancelled.
Next steps: setting up the operations of the JU and its work programme for 2019-2020
Once the JU is formally established, we need to move quickly to set up its office and define its work programme for 2019-2020. This will mean creating: (i) its Governing Board, consisting of representatives from the Commission and the participating countries; and (ii) its Industrial and Scientific Advisory Board consisting of representatives from the two participating private associations, the European Technology Platform for High Performance Computing (ETP4HPC) and the Big Data Value Public-Private Partnership (BDVA-PPP), as well as other representatives (HPC users, supercomputing centres, research organisations, and so on). These bodies will have to take important decisions before the end of this year, in particular to define the work programme of the JU, which will be the basis for launching calls for proposals, in line with the strategic objectives defined in the JU Regulation.
The JU’s work programme for 2019-2020 will be published in late 2018. It will include activities for approximately 1 billion Euros of public funding addressing both of the JU’s pillars:
- Infrastructure pillar: we plan to launch calls for expression of interest in December 2018 for the acquisition of two pre-exascale and at least two petascale supercomputers by the end of 2020. These calls will take into account the requirements of European HPC users. Submitted expressions of interest will be evaluated with the help of external experts, and in spring 2019 the Governing Board will use them to select the winning hosting entity/consortium and then plan the next phase: calls for tenders for procuring the supercomputers. Currently, working groups on user requirements and on hosting and procurement are finalising the details.
- R&I pillar: we will define the work programme of the JU by this autumn and launch its first calls for proposals early 2019.
I expect that this work programme will include largely similar activities and topics to those covered by the HPC calls under the Horizon 2020 work programmes for 2019-2020 that are due to be cancelled.
For example, I expect that it will include actions across the full spectrum of the HPC ecosystem, such as continuing the development of the European microprocessor and European exascale systems and of exascale software and applications, and co-designing their integration in extreme scale prototypes; and contributing to the creation of national HPC Competence Centres and to their networking and coordination across the EU for stimulating the wider use of HPC and addressing the specific HPC-related skills gap.
I want to take this opportunity to invite all interested parties to contribute to the discussion and definition of the R&I pillar of the JU work programme, notably through the two Private Associations, ETP4HPC and BDVA, that are currently coordinating the stakeholders and preparing the inputs defining their priorities. These will be used by the Governing Board to define and adopt the JU work programme and its budget.
EuroHPC beyond 2020
EuroHPC represents a unique opportunity for Europe to step forward and reap the benefits of mastering advanced digital technologies that rely on supercomputing. The convergence and combination of HPC with other technologies such as big data, the cloud, and artificial intelligence is a catalyst for the fourth industrial revolution, and a key element of the European road to digitisation.
This is why the European Commission has proposed an ambitious new Digital Europe programme for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2028), which includes 2.7 billion Euros for high performance computing in Europe. Its objectives include the acquisition of several exascale supercomputers (at least one with European technology in 2022/2023) and post-exascale systems, and the integration of the first hybrid HPC/Quantum computing infrastructure in Europe. It also proposes initiatives to develop advanced HPC skills and further facilitate access to the HPC ecosystem for industry, academia and public administrations. The proposed new Horizon Europe programme will also continue to support R&I actions in exascale and post-exascale technologies and applications.
Stay tuned to learn more about the JU via regular blog posts that we will publish here, and keep an eye out for the new JU website, which will be set up in the coming weeks.
To contact the ETP4HPC: http://www.etp4hpc.eu/contact-us.html
To contact the BDVA: http://www.bdva.eu/contact
To contact the unit at the EC responsible for HPC: CNECT-C2@ec.europa.eu