Supercomputers for All

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Supercomputers may date back to the 1960s, but it is only recently that their vast processing power has begun to be harnessed by industry and commerce, to design safer cars, build quieter aeroplanes, speed up drug discovery, and subdue the volatility of the financial markets.

The need for powerful computers is growing, says Catherine Rivière Chair of the PRACE Council, the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe. “If we are going to tackle modern challenges

- personalised medicines, sustainable energy supply and climate change - and improve industrial processes, we will need new tools to cope with big data; new working processes to take into account multi-disciplinary problems; and new physical models,” she said.

Access to supercomputers is essential for industrial competitiveness and top- class science, and Europe’s international competitors are well aware of this. “For the US administration, to out-compute is to out-compete,” Rivière noted.

While some sectors have made forays into high performance computing
(HPC), Rivière and other experts
at a Science|Business debate, “Supercomputers for all: The next frontier for Europe’s high performance computing”, held in Brussels on 9 September, say the full potential of the technology has yet to be explored, either by science or industry.

“Scientific research is a trip into the unknown,” said Modesto Orozco, Director of the Life Sciences Department, Barcelona Supercomputing Center. “I don’t have any idea what computational scientists and biologists are going to do in the future, but I’m completely sure they are going to do it together.”

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