Supercomputing, or high-performance computing, is a branch of computing that deals with scientific, engineering and societal problems that require huge computational resources. These problems are so big, that one has to divide them up in smaller pieces, distribute and run them onto a vast number of computing units and then rebuild from partial solutions the final global solution. Simulating a fusion reactor, testing airplane designs or predicting the weather are examples of such problems. As such it is critical for both Europe's capability to excel in research, for industrial innovation and competitiveness and the data economy. Without world-class high-performance computing facilities, Europe will not achieve its ambition of becoming a vibrant research area and economy and will lose out to China, the US and Japan.
The next challenge in high-performance computing is to develop machines that are capable of exascale performance within the next 5 to 7 years. There is a staggering amount of computing power in an exascale supercomputer: it is comparable to joining the computing power of all the cell phones of the entire population in the European Union. However, achieving HPC leadership is not just about amassing computing power in one machine. Increasingly, it will depend on the ability to design machines that are closely suited to a specific scientific, engineering and societal problems. There are multiple and complex research questions that have to be dealt with when designing such machines, not least the electricity consumption. If built today, an exascale supercomputer would consume about the equivalent in energy of 150000 households! This is clearly not affordable.
EuroEXA is one of the two latest Research & Innovation Actions that will contribute to this challenge. It builds on previous European high-performance computing projects and partnerships and brings together the focus of European industrial SMEs. The project results will be demonstrated on an integrated and operational prototype with a rich mix of key applications from across climate/weather, physics/energy and life-science/bioinformatics domains.
EuroEXA is a 3.5-year project starting in September 2017. It benefits from an EU-contribution of almost €20 million and is coordinated at the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems in Greece with 15 project partners in Spain, United Kingdom, Greece, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy and Germany.