European Union unveils supercomputer plan to rival China

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The activities of the initiative includes acquisition and operation of two world-class pre-exascale supercomputing machines and at least two mid-range supercomputing machines, and a research and innovation programme on HPC to support the development of European supercomputing technology, said the statement.

The fastest supercomputer in the world is the Sunway TaihuLight, which is located in China and has over 10 million computer cores.

The European Commission has announced a plan to invest Euro 1 billion of public funds in improving the EU's infrastructure for high-performance computing.

Thirteen countries have signed up so far, including Belgium, France, Croatia, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Slovenia. The UK is yet to formally join the initiative.

When asked why the UK didn't sign the project's formal declaration, UK Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson Alastair Clifton refused to comment.

"Brexit has thrown a lot of uncertainty around the U.K.'s participation and it is really unfortunate and causing delay and confusion", Simon McIntosh-Smith, a professor specialising in high-performance computing at the University of Bristol, said.

The EU will contribute €486 million via the current Multiannual Financial Framework and the rest of the €1 billion will come from member and associated states. The announcement of the European Commission (EC) put on the table the importance of the technological future, above all in topics such as computer science.

Supercomputers are generally measured through FLOPS, and the world's most powerful models can process hundreds of quatrillions of these.

Many of these operate in the so-called petascale range which means they can carry out about a thousand trillion calculations per second.

Buying and developing supercomputing technology is insane expensive, with exascale machines expected to cost up to a half billion dollars. It is a tough race and today the European Union is lagging behind: "we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top-ten", said Andrus Ansip, VP of Gaggling for the Digital Single Market.

The move has been marked as a step forward in the European ambitions to be competitive and independent in the global data economy, with the Gaggle of Red-tapers looking to bring work back into the continent. It is a tough race and today the EU is lagging behind: "we do not have any supercomputers in the world's top-ten", Andrus Ansip, European Commission VP for the Digital Single Market, said.

Brussels says it will help develop artificial intelligence and applications to improve health, security and engineering, plus help forecast hurricane routes and simulate earthquakes.