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Semiconductors are essential to today’s societies and they underpin the Next Computing Paradigm. Their importance has been recognized at the highest political levels, resulting in the passing of the U.S. and European Chips Acts and similar instruments across the world. Investments made over the next few years will be critical to European competitiveness and security.

New hardware

by Paul Carpenter, André Hebben, Paolo Azzoni

Three key factors make this an exciting time for hardware in Europe. Semiconductor technologies have been, for a long time, critical to competitiveness, prosperity, and security. Their importance has now been recognized at the highest political levels, resulting in the recent enactments of Chips Acts across the world, leading to significant investments in fundamental hardware technologies. At the same time, the ending of Dennard scaling and slowing of Moore’s law, due to fundamental physical limits, are bringing a diversity of system architectures from heterogeneous and specialized accelerators, to new memory types, to processing in memory, network and storage. This leads to, and is supported by, the rise of open-source hardware development, which reduces the barrier to entry for hardware development.

The largest development in Europe related to computer hardware, over the past year, has been the passing of the European Chips Act, in September 2023 [Azzoni23, diPaola23]. It promises to reduce Europe’s dependence on non-EU suppliers and grow Europe’s share of the global microchips market from 10% to 20% in 2030. The European Chips Act has three pillars. The first is the Chips for Europe Initiative, which aims to bolster Europe’s technological capabilities and autonomy in design and production. It will be supported by a public investment of €4.175 billion,[1] which, together with private contributions, gives a total investment of about €11 billion. This initiative will be implemented by the new CHIPS Joint Undertaking (JU), which replaces the former Key Digital Technologies (KDT) JU. The first CHIPS JU call for pilot lines has been opened, focusing on FD-SOI, leading edge technology at ≤ 2 nm, advanced packaging and wide bandgap semiconductors.

The second pillar facilitates exemptions from the EU’s limits on State aid for “first-of-a-kind” fabs (“Integrated Production Facilities”) and foundries (“Open EU foundries”). The aim is to attract investments in European semiconductor manufacturing, advanced packaging, test, and assembly, thereby leading to improved security of supply and resilience of the EU’s semiconductor sector. The third pillar constitutes measures to monitor the supply chain and intervene in supply-chain crises, by building a coordination mechanism among Member States and the Commission to strengthen collaboration to report disruptions in the supply chain.

Similar initiatives are being developed in other countries or regions, including the U.S. Chips Act, the Chips 4 Alliance, and the initiatives of Japan, Korea and Taiwan. In this context, the European Chips Act stands out with its comprehensive approach, embracing scientific research, development of pilot lines, establishment of unique facilities, a new platform for chip design and manufacturing, competence centers to tackle the skills shortage, and strategies to monitor and prevent future chip scarcities.

With this important background, this section has three articles:

  • Qubits and pieces: Developments and Perspectives in Quantum Computing. Recent advances in quantum technologies have attracted significant industrial attention, and countries have already invested vast resources to develop their capabilities. This article identifies the key components to build a powerful quantum ecosystem.

  • Open hardware and RISC-V: an exciting opportunity for Europe: Open source is well established in software, as a global framework for collaboration and innovation, which benefits the whole landscape from HPC to cloud to IoT and AI. This article recommends investments in open source hardware, with RISC-V as the open source solution of choice.

  • Here to stay: specialized and heterogeneous computing: Specialized hardware can improve performance and/or energy efficiency, since no architecture is perfect for all use cases. This article discusses the rise of specialized and heterogeneous hardware, due to the end of Dennard scaling and the rise of open source hardware.


Paul Carpenter is a researcher in the Computer Sciences Department at Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Spain.

André Hebben is IT Solutions Manager at INSIDE Industry Association.

Paolo Azzoni is secretary general of INSIDE Industry Association.


[1]: [Azzoni23] Paolo Azzoni, Jean-Luc di Paola Galloni, and Dimitrios Serpanos. Chips Shortage and Chips Acts: The Inside View. IEEE Computer, November 2023.
[2]: [diPaola23] An industrial powerhouse in the markets of the future. Inside Magazine, November 2023–Issue 05.
[3]: [Leiserson20] Charles E. Leiserson et al. There’s plenty of room at the Top: What Will drive computer performance after Moore’s law? Science 368, 1079 (2020).
[4]: [Herz23] Douglas Herz. A Century of Moore’s law.

  1. €3.3B from the Chips for Europe Initiative plus €1.3B for the KDT JU. ↩︎

The HiPEAC project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon Europe research and innovation funding programme under grant agreement number 101069836. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.