A week ahead of ISC High Performance 2022 (set to be held in Hamburg, Germany), supercomputing heavyweight HPE has announced a major investment in sovereign European computing: its first European factory, housed in the Czech Republic and aimed at manufacturing next-generation HPE systems for HPC and AI applications. The factory is scheduled to begin operations this summer.
The factory will, more specifically, be in Kutná Hora, a town about an hour’s drive southeast of Prague. HPE is no stranger to Kutná Hora, where the company has already been manufacturing many of its server and storage offerings for years. Like that existing facility, this new factory will be developed in partnership with Foxconn, which HPE says will support both manufacturing and shipping for HPE’s European customers.
This manufacturing and shipping, HPE says, will consist of two main product lines: HPE Apollo systems and HPE Cray EX supercomputers. (Fun fact: HPE shared that the floor of the factory had to be reinforced to support the latter product line, which can feature cabinets that weigh up to 8,000 pounds.) This is HPE’s fourth such HPC manufacturing site, with the other three located in the U.S., Mexico and Singapore.
Europe’s shift toward supercomputing sovereignty
The new factory marks another major investment in sovereign European supercomputing as the European Union strives to build an independent foundation in the HPC world. Even before 2020, the EU had been working toward this goal through major initiatives like the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking and the European Processor Initiative (EPI), and the dual stressors of pandemic-induced supply chain shortages and the war in Ukraine have only exacerbated that desire for independence.
Over the last few months alone, the European Commission made headway on a “European Chips Act” to invest nearly $50 billion into the European semiconductor industry; French computing firm Atos launched its BullSequana XH3000 supercomputer, promising myriad benefits for European sovereignty; and Intel announced a ~$36 billion investment across the European semiconductor supply chain, including a “Silicon Junction” megasite.
HPE’s European foothold
HPE, too, has also been staking its claim in the European supercomputing scene. The company built two of the first slate of EuroHPC supercomputers: LUMI, the 375 Linpack petaflops pre-exascale system set to debut within the next month in Finland, and Karolina, a 9.1 Linpack petaflops system that also happens to be hosted by the Czech Republic. During SC21 last fall, HPE also announced a win with France’s HPC agency, GENCI, and its National Computing Center for Higher Education, CINES, to build the 70 peak petaflops Adastra system. The new factory, though, certainly won’t hurt HPE’s odds as many European stakeholders grow increasingly determined to award contracts to firms with strong presences on the continent.
“When European organizations adopt next-generation supercomputing, they gain a powerful foundation to seize opportunities of exponential data growth to accelerate scientific discovery, strengthen digital sovereignty and unlock innovations to deliver greater economic value,” said Justin Hotard, executive vice president and general manager for HPC & AI at HPE. “HPE is committed to continue supporting Europe in this endeavor and our new HPC factory in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic, is another significant investment, among our other R&D initiatives, that we have made in Europe. We are now able to manufacture the industry’s leading supercomputing, HPC, and AI systems, while increasing supply chain viability and resiliency.”