As recently as last October, the EU was using the Horizon 2020 funding program to direct hundreds of millions of euros toward HPC efforts. But now – just ten months later – the European Commission has announced that the HPC calls issued under Horizon 2020 will be cancelled in favor of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU).
The EuroHPC JU will be formally adopted at the Competitiveness Council on September 27-28. The JU has 22 signatory countries, with the latest – Estonia – joining just two weeks ago. It expects about one billion euros of public investment (half from the EU, half from participating countries) and nearly half a billion additional euros in private investment by 2019-2020. These resources will be directed at activities oriented around two “pillars”:
an Infrastructure pillar, including activities for the acquisition, deployment, interconnection, operation and access time management of world-class supercomputing and data infrastructures;
a Research and Innovation (R&I) pillar, including activities to establish an innovation ecosystem addressing hardware and software supercomputing technologies and their integration into exascale supercomputing systems, advanced applications, services and tools, skills and know-how.
The EU’s public funds will primarily be drawn from the Horizon 2020 budget, resulting in the cancellation of all calls under the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET), e-infrastructures, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) programs. The JU’s new work program has not yet been defined – it is scheduled for publication in late 2018, after its Governing Board and Industrial and Scientific Advisory Board are established.
It remains unclear exactly how much the new work program will share with the Horizon 2020 program. However, in a blog post, Thomas Skordas, Director of Digital Excellence and Science Infrastructure, lends some insight:
I expect that this work programme will include largely similar activities and topics to those covered by the HPC calls under the Horizon 2020 work programmes for 2019-2020 that are due to be cancelled.
For example, I expect that it will include actions across the full spectrum of the HPC ecosystem, such as continuing the development of the European microprocessor and European exascale systems and of exascale software and applications, and co-designing their integration in extreme scale prototypes; and contributing to the creation of national HPC Competence Centres and to their networking and coordination across the EU for stimulating the wider use of HPC and addressing the specific HPC-related skills gap.
He outlines some additional specifics, including a plan to issue calls for expressions of interest in late 2018 for “the acquisition of two pre-exascale and at least two petascale supercomputers by the end of 2020.” Finally, Skordas invites interested parties to “contribute to the discussion and definition of the R&I pillar of the JU work programme” through stakeholder coordination by ETP4HPC and BDVA.
The JU will be based in Luxembourg and is expected to run from early 2019 through late 2026.