The global pandemic, the climate crisis, the competitiveness of companies... Supercomputers and emerging quantum technology are opening new doors for research and Finland as a nation as we seek solutions to the current challenges in science and society.
Finland already has a long history of conducting front-line international research requiring great computational power in many areas of science and technology. We at CSC and VTT have developed the required research environment and expertise in cooperation with our customer organizations.
Next year, EuroHPC LUMI, one of the world's most powerful upercomputers, will start operations at CSC's datacenter in Kajaani. At the same time, VTT will start building a quantum computer.
The establishment of a combined ecosystem of supercomputer and quantum technology in Finland highlights our position as a European pioneer of high-performance computing and data management for research. Above all, investments in world-class technologies will significantly increase the opportunities and attractiveness of Finnish top-level research in the eyes of the international research community.
Technologies complement each other and they are developed through cooperation
The computational power of supercomputers is needed in research in a growing number of scientific fields; different types of data-driven methods are becoming important tools in research, administration, and industry.
Crucial areas of research, such as advancements in the treatment of diseases, brain research, climate research, research in chemistry and materials science, cosmology, astrophysics, and environmental research, as well as the extensive application of artificial intelligence all require more computational resources. The computational capacity of supercomputers can also be used in solving societal problems that require quick decisions and for supporting companies' RDI projects.
Diverse applications make it significantly more important to carry out data analytics and artificial intelligence workflows within a supercomputer infrastructure. Similar challenges could not be solved in a conventional computational environment or in cloud services.
Meanwhile, quantum technology makes it possible to solve certain types of problems with unprecedented efficiency. Quantum computing opens the door to breakthroughs in numerous fields, for example, in the utilization of artificial intelligence, pharmaceutical and material design, optimum solutions in smart energy management, and financial modeling.
Supercomputers and quantum technologies not only complement each other, but through synergies, strengthen each other. Quantum computers will need supercomputers to work alongside them to help harness and target the quantum advantage they create as part of the research process.
Supercomputers, meanwhile, require the revolutionary approach offered by quantum technology in high-performance computing, so that the leap in computational power required for solving hugely significant problems can be achieved. Quantum computers, therefore, will not replace traditional supercomputers. Instead, the two technologies will converge inseparably, giving rise to the next generation of supercomputer solutions.
Skills and knowledge in quantum technology will revolutionize the development of products and technology, which is why it is very important from the point of view of sustainable economic development in Finland to allow the country to continue to develop talent and technology in the field. Investing in the Finnish quantum ecosystem requires input into computational infrastructure, new technologies, the development of applications and algorithms, as well as skills and knowledge, while bringing together CSC, VTT, and other research institutions, universities, Business Finland, and enterprises. With a strong and credible quantum ecosystem, a much-needed revitalization of the domestic electronics and software industry follows, giving rise to an internationally competitive concentration of new technology, as well as new jobs.
Kimmo Koski, CEO, CSC – IT Center for Science
Antti Vasara, CEO, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland