Barcelona Supercomputing Center to host one of first European quantum computers

Network of six will be available from second half of 2023 for R&D purposes for scientists, industries and even public sector across continent

The MareNostrum 4 supercomputer is housed in the former Torre Girona chapel
The MareNostrum 4 supercomputer is housed in the former Torre Girona chapel / Courtesy of Barcelona Supercomputing Center

Cristina Tomàs White | Barcelona

October 11, 2022 11:53 AM

February 7, 2023 05:17 PM

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) will increase its operability after being selected as one of the six locations to host the first European quantum computers. The European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) will integrate the new quantum computer into MareNostrum 5 supercomputer, the most powerful in Spain and among the most advanced in Europe.

The new quantum computer to be installed at the BSC will have the potential to significantly increase the impact of research and innovation by enabling solutions that go beyond the capabilities of current supercomputers.

Spain and the European Union will invest €12.5 million for the project to become a reality.

Installing one of the first Europan quantum computers in Barcelona is one of the first results of the Quantum Spain program, which started in 2021 and has the goal to strengthen the country's Quantum Computing ecosystem.

"This new infrastructure, which will integrate quantum computing with MareNostrum 5, one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, will allow us to advance multiple academic applications," Mateo Valero, director of Barcelona Supercomputing Center, said in a statement released on Monday evening.

"The new milestone will enable BSC to play a decisive role in Europe in these new technologies that will be part of the society of the future and reinforces BSC's role as one of the leaders in supercomputing in Europe," Valero added.

The new European quantum computing network will be available in the second half of 2023, primarily for R&D purposes, to a wide range of users, such as scientific communities, industry, and the public sector, no matter where in Europe they are located. 

The EuroHPC JU has also selected Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, and Poland as sites to install the rest of the first European Quantum computer network. 

All of these machines will be integrated into existing supercomputers at the respective facilities guaranteeing users access to different quantum technologies and architectures.

Catalan president Pere Aragonès considered the news to be "excellent" as it places "Catalonia, once again, as a country pushing for disruptive technology, innovation, and with a big potential to bring talent from abroad," the leader tweeted on Monday night.

Potential applications of quantum computing

The new quantum computers will address the growing demand for quantum computing resources and potential new services from European industry and academia, adding new capabilities to the European supercomputing network. 

This new technology is expected to be able to solve complex problems more quickly in areas such as health, climate change, logistics, or energy usage.

Potential applications of quantum computing include the optimization of traffic flows and fundamental numerical problems in chemistry and physics for the development of new drugs and materials.

This is a purely European initiative, as the new quantum computers will consist entirely of European hardware and software, leveraging European technology developed under EU-funded quantum initiatives, national research programmes, and private investments.

Listen to our Filling the Sink podcast episode from July 2021 to learn more about Barcelona Supercomputing Center.