EU launches €1 billion supercomputer project

The EU is set to spend a billion euros on supercomputers as it looks to become more competitive in the high-powered computing field.

The European Commission has revealed it plans to purchase two “world-class” supercomputers and two mid-range systems by 2020. These machines would help the EU stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of China, the US and Japan. The EU will ultimately look to build a next-gen “exascale” system by 2022.

The project itself kicked off in March last year, but the funding wasn’t unveiled until just now.

The EU will supply half a billion euros for the project (486 million), with the other half coming from member states and “associated countries”. Companies could also join in, the Commission said.

Formally, the UK is not part of the project, and some are fearing the country might be missing out on a great opportunity.

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.

Clifton said the U.K., had been "taking an active part in development of it and are working on future plans of it." Signing the declaration or not “is an open question”, he added.

"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.

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