European Commission dangles €374m for low-power exascale research

Processors are going to be everywhere, so they shouldn't be energy hogs

Europe is trying to plant a flag in future chip development, slinging money towards low-power server silicon.

Through its Horizon 2020 research collaboration, the European Commission pus published a solicitation for the project.

There's nearly €375m on offer for the project, which looks to push more digitisation “outside the traditional 'high-tech sectors”; and develop better software development environments and tools targeting “parallel and heterogeneous architectures”.

The European Commission's Sandro D'Elia told last week's HiPEAC (high performance embedded architecture and compilation) conference last week the move towards Internet of Things environments – what he called “Smart Anything Everywhere” – demands lower-power systems, as well as new software development environments.

D'Elia picked out exascale computing, HPC, big data and deep learning as fields that are currently crimped by the limits of today's silicon.

There's even a nod towards Internet of S**t security, with D-Elia – of the EC's Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology – saying future silicon will need security built into the hardware.

In this HiPEAC publication, D'Elia writes: “the only strict requirements are to improve significantly the energy/performance ratio compared to the state of the art, and to develop a design that can be manufactured in volume at a reasonable cost.”

While applications have to be able to deliver a working prototype of some kind, the EC acknowledges that producing prototype silicon costs a bomb, so software simulators or a combination hardware/software simulation will count.

So far, the Horizon 2020 solicitation has received 264 applications. ®

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