Home Computing Atos’ Turmoil Tangles Eviden: A High-Stakes High-Performance Computing Drama Unfolds

Atos’ Turmoil Tangles Eviden: A High-Stakes High-Performance Computing Drama Unfolds

by Ali Guerra

Amidst a turbulent period marked by financial instability, Atos, a cornerstone in the high-performance computing (HPC) universe, and its supercomputing division, Eviden, are navigating through troubled waters. This development is causing ripples across the global leadership in supercomputing, particularly at a time when Eviden has been charged with the ambitious task of establishing Europe’s inaugural exascale-class supercomputer.

The past year has been particularly challenging for Atos. Last October, it was a moment of triumph when Eviden secured a pivotal contract aimed at propelling Europe into the exascale era of supercomputing. However, the celebration was short-lived as Atos found itself grappling with escalating debt and foiled acquisition attempts, casting a long shadow over its future.

By June 2022, Atos had delineated plans to bifurcate into two roughly equivalent entities by the end of 2023. The Eviden unit, valued at approximately €5 billion, was designated to carry the torch for Atos’ HPC and supercomputing ventures. Nevertheless, the subsequent months unveiled larger-than-anticipated losses, linked predominantly to restructuring efforts. The financial health of Atos witnessed a stark decline, with shares plummeting to €2.08 from a peak of just over €100 in 2017.

Complications ensued as Atos’ negotiation with Daniel Křetínský of EP Equity Investment regarding the sale of its Tech Foundations legacy managed infrastructure business unit reached a deadlock. Paul Saleh, the Group CEO of Atos, lamented the inability to finalize a mutually agreeable deal.

Adding to the company’s woes, European aerospace titan Airbus retracted from a preliminary agreement to acquire a significant stake in Eviden, citing the high leverage of the supercomputing entity as a deterrent. This decision underscored the growing dependency of the aerospace industry on HPC capabilities while highlighting Eviden’s financial fragility.

This succession of setbacks leaves the future of the Tech Foundations-Eviden division in limbo. With Atos now burdened by over €4.5 billion in debt, the company remains open to new acquisition proposals. There is also speculation about a potential reintegration of Atos and Eviden.

The unfolding events cast a shadow of uncertainty over Eviden’s trajectory. Nevertheless, the strategic imperative of fostering a robust European supercomputing ecosystem, independent of American or Asian technological dominions, may prompt intervention from the French government and the European Union.

Despite these challenges, Eviden has continued to secure significant contracts, including a $100M deal last June to enhance the computational capacities of India’s meteorological institutes with systems boasting up to 21.3 petaflops of computing power.

Eviden has also fostered strategic partnerships, collaborating with HPCNow! and Alice & Bob, a quantum computing firm, to bolster its technical capabilities and market reach.

A notable highlight from last October was the announcement of a colossal contract with EuroHPC, showing Eviden’s commitment to spearhead the development of Europe’s first exascale supercomputer in partnership with ParTec and the Jülich Supercomputing Centre in Germany, emphasizing the significance and potential resilience of Eviden in the global supercomputing landscape despite the prevailing corporate tumult.


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