The European HPC Strategy – Regional Vision and Strategy

I have been invited to deliver a presentation on the European HPC strategy at the Big Data and Extreme-scale computing in Barcelona on January 29, 2015. I am very grateful to the organisers for the opportunity, in particular because of the global nature of the event and the high level international representation. This post summarises the main elements of my presentation.

Why Europe needs a HPC strategy?

The short answer to this question is: HPC helps addressing big scientific, industrial and societal challenges and fosters innovation and business opportunities and Europe must be able to take full advantage of it. Some trends:

  • More computing cores in the chip at less energy requirements are profoundly changing the semiconductor industry and all end-user markets
  • Cloud computing, Mobile devices and Apps, Social Technologies, Big Data Analytics today represent about 20% of global IT spending, growing 6 times faster than traditional IT (80% of the IT market by 2020)
  • HPC is pushing the computing frontier (exascale) needed for new applications (e.g. Human Brain Project, Square Kilometre Array)
  • Sustainable HPC : 100 times current computing power consuming 100 times less energy
  • Europe consumes 30% of world HPC… but supplies 5%
  • Europe decreasing its score in top 500 world supercomputers (~20% and only 2 in top 10)

It can be safely argued that HPC is a strategic resource for the EU’s future from both the scientific and industrial point of view. Computational Science is already the “third pillar” of science. Scientific endeavours increasingly rely on data, simulation and models. The most powerful supercomputers are needed to address scientific and societal grand challenges in demand of huge computing and data resources. Industry relies more and more in HPC for innovation in products and services. Several of the most profitable and vibrant industrial sectors in Europe are big HPC users (manufacturing, oil & gas, pharmaceutical industry, etc.). These are some examples:

  • Smart Cities. Cyber-physical embedded systems and real time simulation and control for drinking/waste water, electricity consumption and distribution (e.g. Dalkia/Veolia, EDF). Propagation of electromagnetic waves for reducing power in antennas (Geomod)
  • Health. HPC for modelling instead of animal testing (e.g. L’Oreal, Rhenovia). Understanding the human (Virtual Phisiological Human, Human Brain Project Flagship)
  • Transport. Virtual prototyping, reducing time-to-market (Airbus, Renault, Porsche, etc
  • Big data analytics for finance (Paypal -online fraud detection-, Geco -real-time calculation of insurance quotes-, Amazon –predictive purchase-), health (personalised medical diagnosis) or Global System Science

The European HPC strategy and its implementation through Horizon 2020

The European HPC strategy consists in three tighly interelated elements and is supported by Horizon 2020. The three pillars are:

  • Computer Science: towards exascale HPC. This pillar is supported by a special Horizon 2020 Future and Emerging Techologies initiative focussing on the next generations of exascale computing as a key horizontal enabler for advanced modelling, simulation and big-data applications [HPC in Future and Emerging Technologies (FET)]
  • Providing access to the best supercomputing facilities and services for both industry and academia. This is implemented through PRACE, which is partly funding by Horizon 2020 eInfrastructure programme.
  • Achieving excellence in HPC applications. Implemented through the Centres of Excellence for scientific/industrial HPC applications in domains that are most important for Europe. This pillar is funded through Horizon 2020 eInfrastructure programme.

These three pillars are complemented with training, education and skills development in HPC. This is how they three pillars are related to each other:


And this is how the overall landscape looks like, with some budgetary figures attached:


The Public Private Partnership for HPC

In order to bring together all European actors in the HPC arena, the European Commission signed in January 2014 a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with ETP4HPC, the European Technology Platform for HPC. All PPP partners commit to support the development and implementation of Research & Innovation activities required to implement the European HPC strategy. Other partnerships have been set-up in the following related areas: Factories of the Future, Energy-efficient Buildings, European Green Vehicles, Sustainable Industrial Process, Future Internet (Advanced 5G network), Robotics, Photonics and Big Data Value Chain.

The objectives of the PPP for HPC are the following:

  • To build a European world-class HPC technology value chain that is globally competitive – synergy between technology development, applications and computing infrastructure
  • To achieve a critical mass of convergent resources in order to increase the competitiveness of European HPC vendors and solutions
  • To leverage the transformative power of HPC to boost European competitiveness in science and business
  • To expand the HPC base, especially SMEs (both as users and suppliers of competitive HPC technology solutions)
  • To develop a EU leadership and world-wide excellence in key application domains for industry, science and society

At this moment in time the PPP focuses on two of the three pillars of the European HPC strategy:

PPP scope

Next steps in Horizon 2020

I will conclude with a brief look at what’s on the agenda for 2015.

We are currently drafting the Work Programme 2016-2017. This is very much work in progress. Our initial ideas cover   (1) the support of the implementation of the Pan-European HPC infrastructure through PRACE, (2) the procurement of innovative solutions in HPC through the Public Prucurement of Innovation (PPI) instrument, (3) the development of core technologies towards exascale in the context of the PPP in HPC and (4) the procurement of the HPC platform of the Human Brain Project.

In 2015 we will be busy setting up the first Centres of Excellence for which the call has been recently closed.

By mid 2015 we will have the final results of the Study to follow the progress on the implementation of the European HPC strategy. This study covers the HPC market and HPC R&I landscape in the EU, the impact and the return on HPC investments in innovation and economic progress and growth in the EU and the status of the implementation of the HPC Communication Action Plan.

Finally, by the end of 2015 we will report to Parliament and Council on the implementation of the European HPC strategy. We are convinced that both Parliament and Council will be very satisfied with the achievements of the European HPC community.

The European HPC Strategy – Regional Vision and Strategy