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European supercomputing centres adopt joint procurement process

Some of Europe’s leading supercomputing centres have joined forces to create a buyers group that will enable joint public procurement of new HPC systems.

The new partnership of four public HPC centres (BSC, CINECA, JSC, and GENCI), located in four different countries (Spain, Italy, Germany, and France) means that new supercomputers can be procured through a market consultation for the purchase of HPC systems. This group will operate under as part of the Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions for High-Performance Computing (PPI4HPC) project.

The partnership is intended to give the centres additional buying power so that supercomputing resources can be used more efficiently for science and engineering applications in Europe. It is also hoped that this coordinated approach will lead to a greater impact on the design of HPC solutions. An Open Dialogue Event (ODE) has been set up for HPC vendors and stakeholders on 6 September 2017 in Brussels.

In April 2016, a communication from the European Commission on the ‘European Cloud Initiative’ stressed the need for the development of a European Data Infrastructure, including potential exascale supercomputers by 2020.

In this proposal, the EU Commission reported that ‘the USA, China, Japan, Russia and India are advancing swiftly’ having declared HPC a strategic priority. The report states that conversely ‘Europe is not participating in the HPC race in line with its economic and knowledge potential; it is falling behind other regions as it fails to invest in its HPC ecosystem and to reap the benefits of intellectual property in this field.’  

The report goes on to state that as Europe becomes increasingly dependent on other regions for critical technology, it is at risk of becoming ‘technologically locked, delayed or deprived of strategic know-how.'

The proposal states that ‘No single Member State alone has the financial resources to develop the necessary HPC ecosystem, in competitive timeframes with respect to the US, Japan or China. However, to date, no common action is taken to bridge the gap between internal demand and EU supply.’

To overcome this challenge the EU Commission recommends cooperative action from European countries to galvanise a single strategy that can increase the competitiveness of HPC procurement to help bolster EU countries ability to compete within global HPC markets.

The co-funding by the European Commission (EC) aims to enhance the pre-exascale HPC infrastructure from 2019 and pave the path for future joint investments in Europe. The total investment is expected to be € 73 million.

The participants will work together on coordinated roadmaps to provide HPC resources optimised to the needs of European scientists and engineers. The final decision on which innovative solutions will be procured at the different sites will be made following these roadmaps, but remain a decision of the individual sites.


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