The Commission launched a Public Private Partnership (start in January 2014) in cooperation with the HPC stakeholders grouped currently in the ETP4HPC European Technology Platform.
What is the problem?
Citizens expect sustained improvements in their everyday life while at the same time society is confronted with an increasing number of complex challenges – at the local urban and rural level as well as at the planetary scale. Responding to these challenges will create innovation and therefore the growth and jobs that the EU economy desperately needs. Transforming these challenges to innovation and creation of business opportunity is increasingly predicated on our ability to process large amounts of data and carry out complex computations. High Performance Computing (HPC) allows researchers to study and understand complex phenomena, allows policy makers to make better decisions and enables industry to innovate in products and services. Societal, scientific and economic needs are thus the drivers for the next generation of HPC - computing with exascale performance (computers capable of performing 10 to the power of 18 floating point operations per second).
Why is EU action required?
The development of HPC has long been a national affair for the large Member States, often driven by military and nuclear energy applications. In recent years, however, the increasing importance of HPC for researchers and industry, as well as the exponential rise in the investments required to stay competitive at world level, have led to a common understanding that "Europeanisation" of this policy domain would benefit everyone (both small and large Member States). The magnitude of investment to sustain a complete HPC ecosystem is beyond the reach of most EU countries, even some of the bigger ones. Cooperation is a necessity; in particular for medium and small Member States, which find difficulties in creating self-sufficient national HPC infrastructures, but can valuably contribute to and benefit from an EU-level HPC ecosystem.
A strategy on HPC at EU level is needed to ensure European leadership in the supply and use of HPC systems and services by 2020. This strategy is composed of three pillars: (a) developing the next generation of HPC technologies, applications and systems towards exascale; (b) providing access to the best supercomputing facilities and services for both industry including SMEs and academia; and (c) achieving excellence in HPC application delivery and use; these pillars should be complemented with awareness raising, training, education and skills development in HPC.
What has the Commission done so far?
- The Commission adopted the Communication "High Performance Computing: Europe's place in a Global Race", highlighting the strategic nature of HPC as a crucial asset for the EU's innovation capacity and outlining a strategy to ensure European leadership in the supply and use of HPC systems and services by 2020. This Communication builds on the previous Communication on ICT Infrastructures for e-Science and the Council conclusions asking for a "pooling of national investments in HPC in order to strengthen the position of European industry and academia in the use, development and manufacturing of advanced computing products, services and technologies".
- The Competitiveness Council on 29/30 May 2013 adopted conclusions on this HPC 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, and to its citizens."
- On 10th July 2013, the Commission published a Communication (COM(2013) 494 - "Public-private partnerships in Horizon 2020: a powerful tool to deliver on innovation and growth in Europe") indicating how the engagement of industry in Horizon 2020 can be strengthened, notably through the establishment of contractual PPPs, including the PPP in HPC.
- The e-infrastructure Unit of DG Connect prepared a PPP in cooperation with the HPC stakeholders grouped in the ETP4HPC European Technology Platform. The PPP will cover pillars (a) and (c) of the European HPC strategy above, whereas pillar (b) will be carried out in close collaboration with PRACE - Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe.
- On 17th December 2013, the European Commission launched eight contractual Public Private Partnerships (cPPPs) of strategic importance for European industry. One of them was the PPP in HPC. The PPP is a contractual arrangement between the Commission and the private partners, on the basis of a Commission Decision, which was signed by the Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes. On the occasion of the launch event of the eight contractual PPPs a Press Release was published, as well as a Fact Sheet about the PPP in HPC.
- The PPP in HPC has a total indicative budget of 700 m€, and it will be implemented under Horizon 2020 annual work programmes. The first Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2014-15 has already commited ~€140 million for activities in the frame of the HPC PPP.
- More information on contractual PPPs can be found in EUROPA - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - Contractual partnerships with industry in research and innovation
What will the Commission do next?
- The Commission will implement the PPP in collaboration with the private partner ETP4HPC.
- A study has been tendered to follow-up the implementation of the Action Plan outlined in the Communication on HPC (results expected in mid 2015).
- The Commission will report to Council and Parliament on the implementation of the Action Plan by 2015.