EuroHPC Issues Calls for Quantum Computers, System Upgrades – HPCwire

Last September, the EU’s EuroHPC Joint Undertaking was budgeted through 2027, announcing a slew of major goals for that timeframe. Among them: quantum computing. Now, that goal is being reified through EuroHPC’s first call for quantum computers, which was accompanied by another call for upgrades to existing EuroHPC systems.

EuroHPC’s quantum entanglement

“Europe aims to have its first quantum-accelerated computer at the end of the decade,” said Leonardo Flores Añover, senior HPC expert for the European Commission, at the HPC User Forum last September. “The intention is to create a European hybrid classical and quantum infrastructure. … At the later stage, we hope that the maturity of the technology will allow the deployment of prototype quantum computers with error correction and robust qubits.”

Now, the call is following through on that, inviting supercomputing centers to submit applications to host quantum computers that would be acquired and owned by the JU, which would cover “up to 50 percent of the acquisition costs, up to 50 percent of the costs for the integration of the quantum computer with the existing supercomputer of the hosting entity and up to 50 percent of the operating costs of these quantum computers.”

The total budget on the EU’s side of things: “up to €40 million,” which it estimates as being distributed at a (matched) rate of €8-10 million per quantum computer. For the whole €40 million budget, the JU is likely expecting four to five systems, but says that it intends to acquire “at least three quantum computers in 2022[.]” The JU is also aiming for diversity in its selections, aiming to give users access to “as many different quantum technologies as possible.”

“The primary objective of this action,” the call reads, “is to make available to users European quantum computers integrated with EuroHPC Participating States HPC computers, in a hybrid configuration, in order to address a growing demand from European industry and academia for applications with industrial, scientific and societal relevance for Europe. … . The action should foster the emergence of real use case applications, and mature quantum computing in Europe. This will contribute to the development of an ecosystem of quantum programming facilities, application libraries and skilled workforce.”

And — unsurprisingly, given the EU’s double-down on indigenous computing of late — the call also emphasizes the importance of homegrown quantum tech. “The activities should leverage European technology, in particular quantum computing technologies developed within the Quantum Flagship, other European initiatives and national Quantum research programmes of the EuroHPC Participating States,” it reads.

The quantum computing call closes in three months, on June 30, 2022.

Round one, part two

The second call is for upgrades to existing systems, which EuroHPC says should allow its existing systems to have longer operational lifetimes, increased performance and new functionalities to address expanding user needs.

The JU says that entities are eligible to submit applications for upgrades if it is at least one year past their selection as a hosting entity and no longer than three years past that date. And there’s no double-dipping — each system will only be eligible for one upgrade.

The JU is bringing a similar budget to this call — €33 million — but is capping its contributions at 35 percent of the total cost of the upgrade, with the participating states hosting the system on the hook for the remaining 65 percent. The JU is also capping the total cost of the upgrade at 30 percent of the total acquisition cost of the original supercomputer in question. Finally, in line with the recent budgeting of the JU through 2027, the amount it spends on upgrades over that period is capped at €150 million.

This second call closes earlier than the quantum call: June 3, 2022.

The new datacenter for EuroHPC’s Lumi supercomputer.

The state of the Union

EuroHPC currently has four operational petascale systems: the Bulgaria-hosted Discoverer system (six peak petaflops); the Slovenia-hosted Vega system (6.8 peak petaflops); Czechia-hosted Karolina system (15.2 peak petaflops); and the Luxembourg-hosted Meluxina system (18 peak petaflops). The Portugal-hosted Deucalion system (10 peak petaflops) and the Finland-hosted, ~375-Linpack petaflops Lumi system, meanwhile, should be online imminently. Finally (for now), the Italy-hosted Leonardo system (~250 Linpack petaflops) appears to have slipped from a spring launch to “the end of 2022,” and the much-troubled Spain-hosted MareNostrum5 system has not seen any major updates since its second call closed in January of this year.

Even ahead of bringing these pre-exascale systems online, EuroHPC issued yet another call in December, asking for two host sites for exascale systems. That call closed in mid-February, but the JU has yet to reveal the results of the selection process.

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