European supercomputer pact signed

Fifteen countries yesterday signed a pact to create a pan-European infrastructure for high performance computing which aims to strengthen science, engineering and supercomputer technologies.

The countries, which include Britain, Germany, France, and Italy, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the new initiative, ‘Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe’ (PACE) to foster and develop this area.

The pact was made in parallel with the European Science Foundation (ESF) initiated Forward Look programme LINCEI which is aimed at enabling Europe’s scientific community and policy makers to develop a vision on how computational sciences will evolve in the coming 10 to 20 years. A strategy will then be presented at the end this year aiming at structuring software and hardware support and development at the European level.

The supercomputer centre will allow joint use of the capacities of more than one supercomputer. The major part of the cost, estimated at around €400m, is to be met by the 15 countries whose computer centres are involved in the project. The rest will be provided by the European Union through the 7th Research Framework Programme. The aim is to provide scientists in Europe with optimal access to supercomputers.

The multinational partnership originated from a report by the body of experts known as the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) compiled for the European Commission in autumn 2006. In the report, it recommends the creation of a supercomputer infrastructure of the highest quality.

At a meeting in Lisbon in March 2000 the European Council declared its intention to turn the European Union into the world’s most dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010. High performance computing, advanced networking and associated grid technologies are considered key strategic areas to achieve this goal.