If the announcement of the launch of MareNostrum 5, slated for 2021 with a budget of €223 million can be considered good news, then this Monday’s announcement by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) that one of its strategic objectives is to generate its own technology in the field of microprocessors is even better news. The BSC intends to compete on an equal footing with the big US manufacturers like Intel, which dominate the global market. The announcement was made today by Mateo Valero, director of the BSC, at a press conference designed to showcase MareNostrum 5. She was joined by Roberto Viola, the European Commission’s Director General of Communications Networks, Content and Technology. Viola spoke of Europe's willingness to compete in the "world supercomputing league" with a projected EU budget of over €3 billion.
According to Viola, the investment made in MareNostrum 5, is only "the first step" towards ensuring the EU join the world leaders, alongside the United States, China and Japan. The Catalan supercomputer, together with those which are to be built in Bologna (Italy) and Kajaani (Finland), will spearhead the new European approach.
Europe is expected to build a total of eight supercomputers over the next few years, starting with the first three, in what Viola called a "major collaborative effort". The first phase of the project has an overall budget of €840 million, which Viola admitted is "clearly inadequate". The next phase, subject to the EU’s budget being approved, will provide additional investment of €3 billion in order to create machines which are "between 5 and 7 times more powerful".
The presentation was also attended by Maria Àngels Chacón, Catalonia’s Minister for Enterprise and Knowledge. Chacón spoke of the new supercomputer’s role as a "transfer tool in a knowledge economy based on data management".
MareNostrum 5 will eventually be capable of performing up to 200 petaflops (2 trillion operations per second) and an average speed of 150 petaflops. This would make it the fastest supercomputer in the world, if it were to come into service tomorrow.
In 2021, when MareNostrum 5 is expected to enter into service, it will no longer occupy the number one slot. However, it will maintain its leadership in the development of applications aimed at artificial intelligence and data analysis and management, as well as the development of EU chip technology, a milestone it is expected to achieve in just four years.