EuroHPC calls for quantum computers and system upgrades

Last September, the EU’s EuroHPC joint undertaking was budgeted until 2027, announcing a series of major objectives for this period. Among them: quantum computing. Today, that goal is delivered through EuroHPC’s first call for quantum computers, which has been accompanied by another call for upgrades to existing EuroHPC systems.

The quantum entanglement of EuroHPC

“Europe aims to have its first quantum-accelerated computer by 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 classical and quantum hybrid European infrastructure. … At a 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 follows up on that, inviting supercomputing centers to submit applications to host quantum computers to be acquired and owned by the JU, which would cover “up to 50% of the acquisition costs, up to 50% of the costs for the integration of the quantum computer with the existing supercomputer of the hosting entity and up to 50% of the operating costs of these quantum computers.

The total budget on the EU side: “up to 40 million euros”, which it estimates to be distributed at a (corresponding) rate of 8 to 10 million euros per quantum computer. For the entire €40 million budget, the JU probably expects four to five systems, but says it intends to acquire “at least three quantum computers in 2022”.[.]The JU also aims for diversity in its selections, aiming to give users access to “as many different quantum technologies as possible”.

“The main objective of this action”, says the call, “is to make available to users European quantum computers integrated with the HPC computers of the EuroHPC participating states, in a hybrid configuration, in order to meet a growing demand from European industry and academia for applications of industrial, scientific and societal relevance for Europe.… The action should foster the emergence of real-world use-case applications and IT 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 push on indigenous computing lately – the call also highlights the importance of homegrown quantum technology. “Activities should take advantage of European technology, in particular quantum computing technologies developed within the flagship Quantum, other European initiatives and national quantum research programs of EuroHPC participating states,” says- he.

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

First round, second part

The second call is for upgrades to existing systems, which EuroHPC says should allow its existing systems to have a longer operational life, increased performance and new features to meet growing user needs.

The JU states that entities are eligible to submit upgrade requests if there is at least one year after their selection as a hosting entity and no more than three years after that date. And there’s no double dipping – each system will only be eligible for one upgrade.

The JU is contributing a similar budget to this call – €33 million – but capping its contributions at 35% of the total cost of the upgrade, with Participating States hosting the system responsible for the remaining 65%. The JU also caps the total cost of the upgrade at 30% of the total acquisition cost of the original supercomputer in question. Finally, in line with JU’s recent budgeting until 2027, the amount it spends on upgrades during this period is capped at €150 million.

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

The new data center of EuroHPC’s Lumi supercomputer.

state of the union

EuroHPC currently has four operational petaflop systems: the Discoverer system hosted in Bulgaria (six peak petaflops); the Vega system hosted in Slovenia (6.8 petaflops peak); Karolina system hosted in Czechia (15.2 petaflops peak); and the Meluxina system hosted in Luxembourg (18 petaflops peak). The Deucalion system hosted in Portugal (10 petaflops peak) and the Lumi system hosted in Finland, ~375 petaflops Linpack, are expected to go live shortly. Finally (for now), the Leonardo system hosted in Italy (~250 petaflops Linpack) seems to have gone from a spring launch to “late 2022”, and the very troubled MareNostrum5 system hosted in Spain hasn’t seen major updates since the closing of its second call in January this year.

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