High-performance computing (HPC) is the use of super computers and parallel processing techniques for solving complex computational problems. High-Performance Computing (HPC) is a strategic resource for Europe's future.

Europe is in the middle of an economic revolution, and this revolution is digital. By enabling to process the current explosion of data, High Performance Computing is at the core of major advances and innovation in the digital age. Mastering advanced computing technologies from hardware to software has become essential for innovation, growth and jobs. 

Modern scientific discovery requires very high computing power and capability to deal with huge volumes of data. Industry and SMEs are also increasingly relying on the power of supercomputers to invent innovative solutions, reduce cost and decrease time to market for products and services. But the nature of computing is changing with an increasing number of data-intensive critical applications: by 2020, 25 billion devices will be connected and will generate over two zettabytes of traffic every year.

The European Strategy

European Cloud initiative

With the "European Cloud initiative - Building a competitive data and knowledge economy for Europe", the European Commission will provide researchers, industry, SMEs and public authorities with world-class supercomputers that bring state of the art computing and data storage capacity needed to excel in data-driven science and in the digital economy. The objective is to give Europe a lead  in the data-driven innovation, based on the capacity to process, manage and store the huge volumes of information generated by the data revolution.

Due to an upcoming technology paradigm shift in HPC (the transition from petascale, to exascale) a window of opportunity is opening for Europe. However, not all countries in Europe have the capacity to build and maintain such infrastructure or to develop exascale technologies. Pooling and rationalising efforts at the European Union level is therefore a must. One objective of the European Cloud initiative is to see a supercomputer based on EU technology among the world top three by 2022.

The European Commission will complement the European Data Infrastructure under the European Cloud initiative with a long-term and large-scale flagship initiative on quantum technologies. The objective is to unlock the full potential of quantum which hold the promise to solve computational problems beyond current supercomputers.

By improving Europe's competitiveness and cohesion, the European Cloud initiative will help create a Digital Single Market in Europe.

More information is available on the European Open Science Cloud webpage.

The mid-term review of the Digital Single Market strategy will focus on high-performance computing oriented actions, aiming to manage digital transformation of our society and economy.

Check the applications of High-Performance Computing and what the EC does within its HPC strategy in this infographic.

The HPC strategy

The Commission recognised the need for an EU-level policy in HPC to optimise national and European investments, addressing the entire HPC ecosystem. The Commission adopted its HPC Strategy on 15 February 2012 in the Communication "High Performance Computing (HPC): Europe's place in a global race" to ensure European leadership in the supply and use of HPC systems and services by 2020. The Competitiveness Council on 29/30 May 2013 adopted conclusions on this Communication, highlighting the role of HPC in the EU's innovation capacity and stressing its strategic importance to the EU's industrial and scientific capabilities as well as to its citizens.

The European HPC strategy has three pillars (along with training, education and skills development):

  1. Developing the next generation of HPC technologies, applications and systems towards exascale;
  2. Providing access to the best supercomputing facilities and services for the industry (including SMEs) and academia (PRACE);
  3. Achieving excellence in HPC application delivery and use through establishment of Centres of Excellence in HPC applications.

HPC Contractual Public-Private Partnership

Nine contractual Public-Private Partnerships (cPPPs) of strategic importance for the European industry have been created. The cPPP for HPC aims notably at strengthening the engagement of industry in Horizon 2020 (Communication "Public-private partnerships in Horizon 2020: a powerful tool to deliver on innovation and growth in Europe").


The Horizon 2020 HPC-related actions under the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) and the European Research Infrastructures, including e-infrastructures programmes aim to ensure European leadership in the supply and use of HPC systems and services and to deliver practical benefits to the European economy and society.

The previous 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technology Development already supported the implementation of the strategy.

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The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) in Telecom is a key EU instrument to facilitate cross-border interaction between public administrations, businesses and citizens, by deploying digital service infrastructures (DSIs) and broadband networks. It encourages the exploitation of HPC together with public data as a first step to establish a new generation of Digital Service Infrastructures (DSIs).  The 2017-3 CEF Telecom Public Open Data call makes an indicative EUR 6 million of funding available for proposals in this area.

Access the 2017-3 CEF Telecom Public Open Data call

18 February 2015
Last update: 
13 September 2017
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