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Information and Communication Technologies have opened up new and unprecedented possibilities for businesses and citizens alike, and have lead to an exponential increment in our wealth and welfare. Also, it is widely recognized that ICT will play a major role in the next decades, where it will be an enabler for the structural changes that our society will undergo in order to become the sustainable society of the future.

Until now, ICT has ensured constant progress due to the scaling down of its building blocks, the consequent increase in computing power as well as the scaling up of the number of interconnected processors leading to massively parallel/distributed computing. But limits are now very clearly in sight that threaten the further development of a number of applications. Those limits are related to heat dissipation and energy efficiency, and also to hitting the “atomic wall” where the components size reaches nanoscale and below.

In this context, the goal of the ICT BEYOND LIMITS flagship is to open new avenues for future information processing technologies to go far beyond the current limits of performances and energy requirements.

To reach this ambitious goal, ICT BEYOND LIMITS addresses the most pressing scientific and technological demands arising from the way technologies, systems and products are and will be designed. It works in two strongly interconnected strands: Emerging hardware and Emerging Simulation.

The part “Emerging Hardware” addresses the following issues in

  • Supercomputer Technology Beyond the Exascale: The development of supercomputer technology towards the Exascale and far beyond requires the creation of innovative components on all aspects of architectural design, and a mastering of both the limitations and the novel possibilities opened by working at the nanoscale;
    • Immense progress will be achieved in ultra-scalable hardware architectures, optimized energy efficiency and highly scalable storage;
    • The transfer of HPC technologies from the lab to information and communication technologies for business and society in order to sustain the exponential increment in our wealth and welfare. Championing supercomputing at the forefront will be pushing and propagating innovation to all other levels;
    • The development of European ICT technology will reduce dependence and foster cooperation with USA and worldwide;
  • Quantum Technologies:
    • The exploitation of the full potential of quantum mechanics in information processing, by engineering quantum behavior at the level of logical degrees of freedom;
    • The use of quantum coherence to perform tasks in information processing, communication, sensing, imaging and metrology unattainable by systems behaving classically;
    • The transfer of these quantum technologies from the lab to the real world, leading in the mid- to long-term to entirely new fields of economic activities, and having an impact on everyday concerns like, e.g., security, privacy, data protection and health care;
  • The solution of the power dissipation problem for current and future ICT devices in quantum and supercomputing by answering fundamental questions on 1) basic mechanisms behind heat production; 2) the way to take advantage of the fluctuations instead of avoiding them and 3) the mean to merge the physics of heat and charge transport with the phonon engineering in order to advance computing tasks.

The technology fields Supercomputing and Quantum Technologies represent the fundament of the Emerging Hardware part of the initiative, complemented and supported by the resource area Phonons and Fluctuations, and deeply connected with the other areas described below.

The part “Emerging Simulations” in turn addresses the following issues:

  • The increasing importance of simulations of nearly all real-world problems concerning real, virtual or conceptual complex systems: this requires to rethink models and algorithms. A revolution is expected in the way systems are designed that will rely on simulation on a 10-15 year time horizon;
  • The demand for system simulations of ever increasing complexity calls for the development of scalable application codes as well as scalable system software to exploit the full power of supercomputers and distributed computing facilities. Completely novel programming paradigms, program development processes and programming tool chains to address technical challenges of (Exascale) multi-core computing are needed;
  • The contributions will come from four operative research areas: three well-developed fields (Quantum Technologies, e-Design and Supercomputing) where maturity and critical mass have already been attained, and an emerging and promising one (Phonons and Fluctuations) where the same progress is to be expected over the next years;
  • Quantum Technologies will develop the most radical and promising ideas and technological platforms to bypass the scalability limits of conventional ICT, resulting in:
    • New components and devices that will be elements in the long term in high-performance computing facilities;
    • completely new technologies (quantum communication, quantum metrology, entanglement based technologies);
    • new models of quantum dynamics that will constitute physical input for the e-Design simulation environments.
  • Supercomputing Technologies will deliver most innovative all-purpose leadership supercomputing hardware and software technology for key applications, resulting in:
    • Rapid progress in computational power (high performance computing facilities and cloud computing) enabling the simulation environments needed by e-Design;
    • Pushing the transfer of leadingIC-technologies from the lab to business and society;
    • A common software architecture through the development and exploitation of advanced computing facilities to simulate real systems.
  • e-Design will revolutionize the way scientific support is addressed, products, systems and technologies are designed, resulting in:
    • Efficient and realistic multi-scale, multi-physics, multi-technologies algorithms and Exascale simulation codes;
    • New computation/simulation capabilities using post-Exascale and quantum technologies;
    • A universal and distributed database at the atomic scale;
    • Innovative CAD tools and intuitive Human Machine interfaces.
  • Phonons & Fluctuations will develop a new understanding of basic mechanisms of information transport and energy dissipation for a greener computing technology, resulting in:
    • Lower energy and higher efficient components;
    • Noise-tolerance computational strategies based on fluctuations.
  • ICT BEYOND LIMITS targets bridging breakthroughs in science and innovative applications through strong synergies between its components:
    • Energy efficient technologies will develop thanks to advances in theoretical nanoscale thermodynamics, quantum technologies and computing system design;
    • Conversely, e-Design will benefit from advances in physical modeling of nanoscale processes both at classical and quantum levels, allowing "quasi-zero approximation" simulation;
    • Quantum technologies will take advantage of extensive simulations for the design of new components and devices;
    • Supercomputing development will require breakthroughs in computing power and in energy management, possibly benefiting from new computational approaches both at classical and quantum level.