UK invests £225m in AI supercomputer with HP and University of Bristol
Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the University of Bristol have been selected by the UK government to deliver what is being billed as “the UK’s fastest supercomputer”.
As part of the UK’s investment in a national AI Research Resource (AIRR) the government is investing £225m in a computer called Isambard-AI, which comprises of 5,000 NVIDIA GH200 superchips and is capable of 200 quadrillion calculations per second.
It is hoped that the computing capacity will drive industry breakthroughs in fields such as robotics, big data, climate research, and drug discovery.
In a press statement released by HPE, it added that the UK government’s new Frontier AI Taskforce would be given priority access to the system, “to support its work to mitigate the risks posed by the most advanced forms of AI, including national security from the development of bioweapons and cyberattacks.”
The supercomputer, which is set to be unveiled at the National Composites Centre in Bristol, next summer, is part of a £300m package.
HPE will build and deliver Bristol-based Isambard-AI, which will also connect with a new supercomputer cluster at the University of Cambridge, called Dawn, which is being developed to offer additional capacity as part of the AIRR initiative.
According to Simon McIntosh-Smith, director of the Isambard National Research Facility at the University of Bristol, Isambard-AI is “set to rank within the top 10 fastest supercomputers in the world and, when in operation later in 2024, it will be one of the most powerful AI systems for open science anywhere”.
Ian Buck, vice president of hyperscale and HPC at NVIDIA, added that, in building its own AI supercomputer, the UK was demonstrating the importance for individua nations to create their own infrastructure and tech sovereignty.
He added: “Isambard-AI will provide researchers with the same state-of-the-art AI and HPC compute resources used by the world’s leading AI pioneers, enabling the UK to introduce the next wave of AI and scientific breakthroughs.”
The news was announced during a safety summit hosted by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who has gathered word leaders, tech bosses, academics, and AI researchers to discuss how best to maximise the benefits of AI.
As interest and conversations around artificial intelligence infuse into popular culture, the makers of Collins Dictionary have declared AI as their “word of the year”.
Use of the term has quadrupled this year, the publishers said.
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