HPC systems provide the high-performance computation power for the most demanding computational tasks. From molecular dynamics to quantum mechanics, HPC systems can execute any task imaginable. Their vast data storage and high-speed communication capabilities make HPC systems indispensable for climate modeling, oil exploration, and genome analysis.The United States is a leader in HPC systems. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested more than $7 billion to support HPC research and development. Today, U.S.-based private companies are the leaders in designing and building supercomputers for national laboratories, universities, and private-sector corporations.

While U.S.-based companies have led the world in HPC system design and manufacturing for decades, their dominance has now been challenged by European firms that are also making significant strides in HPC system design and manufacturing. The European Union has made significant investment in HPC research and development. The EU strategy is to establish European HPC firms as the leading global providers of HPC systems and services by 2020. In the United States, efforts to sustain the nation’s leadership in this area have been hampered by a lack of strategic planning and funding.

The growth of HPC systems is inextricably linked with corporate performance, scientific discovery, and national security interests. A robust U.S.-based industry will improve U.S. economic competitiveness and foster jobs creation that further enhance our ability to thrive in a global economy, while bolstering U.S. leadership in scientific research and technology.

The U.S. federal government’s role in HPC is to ensure that the U.S. economy has the capacity to develop and deploy HPC systems, which will maximize benefit from these systems for our national security, homeland, and economic security interests. 

The U.S. government should build a national HPC network that links all U.S.-based research facilities and commercial organizations with each other and the world through high-speed fiber optic cables for the transmission of data, models, and discoveries .

To help American companies develop manufacturing capabilities in communities across the United States, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) should create an HPC manufacturing supply chain program that promotes more efficient, less expensive, and sustainable production lines for high-performance computing hardware components .

These systems, which are referred to as advanced microprocessors, compete directly with American-made HPC systems.Today, the United States Federal Government spends more than $3 billion annually on the purchase and operation of these systems, including those made by U.S. companies as well as those manufactured by European firms. These systems are used to conduct a wide range of science and engineering research and development.In addition, the U.S. Federal Government provides hundreds of millions of dollars in direct grants and contracts per year to U.S.-based companies for these system design, construction, operation and maintenance. Furthermore, these companies have also received over $5 billion in direct contracts with the federal government for these system repair and maintenance services. The federal government spends more than $100 million on these system maintenance alone each year.In recent years, U.S.-based companies have experienced a decline of market share in these systems sold to the government more generally. And as foreign-made systems become more prevalent and the U.S.-based companies lose business, the United States is losing jobs and valuable intellectual property that are vital to its national security and economic competitiveness globally.This report addresses whether European-manufactured advanced microprocessors are displacing U.S.-manufactured these systems in federal government agencies. It also identifies actions that could be taken to stop or reverse this trend and protect against the risk of losing U.S. jobs and valuable intellectual property.

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