High performance computing (HPC), also known as supercomputing, involves thousands of processors working in parallel to analyse billions of pieces of data in real time, performing calculations thousands of times faster than a normal computer. In the digital era, it is at the core of major advances and innovation and a strategic resource for Europe's future.

In today’s world, larger and larger amounts of data are constantly being generated. 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. As a result:

  • Industry and SMEs are increasingly relying on the power of supercomputers to work on innovative solutions, reduce costs and decrease time to market for products and services;
  • Modern scientific discovery requires very high computing power and capability: for example, to accelerate genome sequencing by two orders of magnitude and enable scientists to crack cancer diseases.

The next generation of supercomputers, exascale supercomputers, will be performing one trillion (1018) operations per second and will be available around 2022. Pre-exascale systems will have close to exascale performance and will be available on the market around 2020.

European High Performance Computing strategy

In April 2016, with the communication "European Cloud initiative - Building a competitive data and knowledge economy for Europe", the European Commission set the objective of providing researchers, industry, SMEs and public authorities with access to world-class supercomputers unleashing their innovation and transformation potential. The ultimate goal is to place Europe among the current leaders in these fields, and to develop further the Digital Single Market in Europe.

Due to an upcoming technology paradigm shift in high-performance computing (the transition from petascale, to exascale) a window of opportunity is opening for Europe. Pooling and rationalising efforts at the European Union level is essential to reach exascale capabilities and place a European supercomputer 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 holds the promise to solve computational problems beyond current supercomputers, including by support for the emergence of hybrid high-performance computing (HPC) / quantum computing infrastructures to enable quantum-classical hybrid computing models.

The European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU)

In September 2018, the European Council adopted the Regulation establishing the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC Joint Undertaking). It will pool EU and participating countries’ resources to build in Europe a world-class supercomputing and data infrastructure and a competitive innovation ecosystem in relevant technologies and applications.

More information

More information on the applications of High-Performance Computing and on what the European Commission does within its HPC strategy can be found in the following documents:

  • Brochure "A digital economy and society powered by High-Performance Computing"
  • High Performance Computing factsheet
  • Detailed planning of HPC-related activities for the period 2018-2020 in Horizon 2020