European Union wants to spend €1bn on supercomputers

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The aim is to develop its own exascale machines (that can do a billion billion calculations per second) by 2022-23.

There are of course quite a few supercomputers located around the world, but few are with the grasp of the Gagglers.

The European Commission has unveiled plans to spend 1bn euros creating "world class" supercomputers.

Today's initiative will pool investments to establish leading European supercomputers and big data infrastructure.

Thirteen countries have signed up so far, including Belgium, France, Croatia, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Slovenia.

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Clifton did, however, tell Bloomberg that the United Kingdom has been taking "an active part in development" and whether the country would sign up to the initiative "is an open question". "Brexit has thrown a lot of uncertainty around the UK's participation and it is really unfortunate and causing delay and confusion", University of Bristol's Simon McIntosh-Smith told Bloomberg.

When asked why the UK didn't sign the project's formal declaration, UK Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson Alastair Clifton refused to comment. Under this framework, known as the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking, the European Union (EU) would contribute around €486 million, while the remainder would be supplied by EU member states and associated countries.

There will also be two "mid-range systems", which will be able to handle tens of millions of billions of calculations per second.

The EU will put €486m towards the project by 2020, with a similar figure being sourced from other member states and "associated countries".

While the Top500 tables are always great to be at the head of, more powerful supercomputers are a massive boon to people around the world due to the advantages that they bring.

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Many of these operate in the so-called petascale range which means they can carry out about a thousand trillion calculations per second.

"Supercomputers are the engine to power the digital economy", said Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market in a statement.

Buying and developing supercomputing technology is insane expensive, with exascale machines expected to cost up to a half billion dollars.

The European Commission's proposal claims that European institutions and businesses are now at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting their sensitive data.

"With the EuroHPC (European High-Performance Computing) initiative we want to give European researchers and companies world-leading supercomputer capacity by 2020 - to develop technologies such as artificial intelligence".

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