In its communication on the “European Cloud Initiative” the European Commission in April 2016 stressed the need for building an European Data Infrastructure including high-end supercomputers, which will around 2022 reach the exascale performance level. In this proposal, a group of leading European supercomputing centres decided the formation of a buyers group to execute a joint Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions (PPI) for the first time in the area of high-performance computing (HPC). The co-funding by the European Commission (EC) allowed for a significant enhancement of the planned pre-exascale HPC infrastructure from 2019 and paved the path for future joint investments in Europe. The total investment was € 73 million. The involved HPC centres, namely BSC, CEA/GENCI, CINECA and JUELICH, have a strong track record in providing supercomputing resources at European level. The project participants are founding members of PRACE and have made Tier-0 systems available through PRACE.
This joint initiative created benefits in multiple respects:
- More supercomputing resources are efficiently exploitable for science and engineering applications in Europe within PRACE, the pan-European HPC infrastructure, as selected, relevant applications will play an important role in guiding this procurement process.
- R&D on HPC architectures and technologies in Europe are strengthened as suitable incentives are provided by this joint procurement process.
- The coordinated approach will give us a greater weight and allow having more impact on the design of the solutions according to the need of scientists and engineers in Europe.
- The participants worked together on coordinated roadmaps for providing HPC resources optimised to the needs of European scientists and engineers. The final decision on which innovative solutions were procured at the different sites were made following these roadmaps, but remained a decision of the individual sites.