Denmark has confirmed its commitments towards the European Joint Undertaking for High Performance Computing (EuroHPC JU), with the firm intention of joining this legal entity once it is formally adopted by the Council of the European Union.
The EuroHPC JU will pool European and national resources to establish a world-class high performance computing (HPC, also known as supercomputing) and data infrastructure, and a competitive HPC ecosystem, by acquiring and operating world-class high-performance computers and also by building in Europe key technology blocks (from low power processor up to systems architecture), software tools and applications. The aim is to put Europe in the HPC world top three by 2022-2023.
Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, and Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, welcomed the commitment made by Denmark:
It is with great pleasure that we welcome Denmark into this ambitious European initiative. By aligning our European and national strategies and pooling resources and knowledge, we will be able to develop European high performance computing technologies and applications and integrate them into a vibrant ecosystem. The development of a world-class supercomputing infrastructure in Europe will allow a wide range of scientific and industrial users to access computing simulations and big data analysis. This will facilitate cutting-edge life science research for new drugs development and personalized medicine. Supercomputer capabilities will also help researchers in areas like weather prediction, climate modelling and renewable energy, to create, for example, models for how the wind moves around a wind turbine blade.
The Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science, Tommy Ahlers, added:
The rapid increase in volume of data creates new prospects for research and innovation, and it is vital for Europe to be a frontrunner in this regard. We need to pool our resources in order to create the most viable and competitive solutions. High Performance Computing will be a central infrastructure for future research and excellent Danish scientists and businesses are ready to contribute to the development of this new ecosystem. I am pleased to sign the declaration making Denmark an establishing Member State of the European cooperation on High Performance Computing. Personally, I am truly excited to follow the coming work of the EuroHPC.
The EuroHPC JU total budget is around EUR 1 billion. Half of the funding will be provided by the European Commission, and half by European countries. There will also be in-kind contributions from private partners. The goal of the JU will be to acquire systems with pre-exascale performance by 2020, and to support the development of exascale (a billion billion or 1018 calculations per second) systems based on European technology by 2022-2023. It will also work to fostering applications and skills development and the wider use of high performance computing. The JU is due to begin operations before the end of this year.
Uses of high performance computing
High performance computing is already improving people’s lives in sectors such as healthcare, weather, clean energy, precision agriculture and cybersecurity. For example, in medicine, by using data processing technologies with information about a person’s genes, proteins, and environment to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, it is possible to provide better and personalised treatments at lower cost. Supercomputers are also used to support the discovery of new drugs or for understanding the functioning of the human brain and its diseases.
In cybersecurity and defence, supercomputers are used for developing efficient encryption technologies, understanding and responding to cyberattacks or in nuclear simulations; scientists also use their computing power to study climate change and for weather prediction. They can predict the path and the effects of devastating storms and can save lives and limit the economic consequences.