The University of Bristol and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) have secured £225M (approximately €258.19M) in funding from the UK government to create the UK’s fastest AI supercomputer, named Isambard-AI.
This initiative is part of the UK Government’s £300M (approximately €344.21M) investment in a national Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (AIRR).
Isambard-AI, set to open in the summer of 2024 at the National Composites Centre, will be 10 times more powerful than the current fastest UK supercomputer.
Justin Hotard, executive VP and GM, HPC, AI & Labs at HPE says, “Today’s announcement of the UK’s major investment in AI supercomputing underscores its commitment to taking a global leadership position in AI.”
“The Isambard-AI system will harness world-leading supercomputing, including high-performance networking co-developed at HPE’s Bristol labs, to provide the performance and scale required for compute-intensive AI projects.”
“We are proud to partner with the UK Government and the University of Bristol to give UK researchers and industry access to Europe’s largest AI system for open science,” adds Hotard.
Isambard-AI to drive AI-driven research
HPE will construct the Isambard-AI supercomputer using next-generation HPE Cray EX supercomputers and over 5,000 NVIDIA GH200 superchips.
This configuration will enable Isambard-AI to perform up to 200 quadrillion calculations per second, showcasing its advanced computing capabilities.
The Bristol facility will support UK organisations in harnessing AI’s potential in emerging technologies such as large language models, big data, and robotics. The facility will also help in other important areas including accelerating automated drug discovery and climate research.
Isambard-AI will link with the University of Cambridge’s new supercomputer cluster named Dawn, expanding the national AIRR’s capacity.
Prof. Simon McIntosh-Smith, Director of the Isambard National Research Facility at the University of Bristol says, “Isambard-AI represents a huge leap forward for AI computational power in the UK. Today Isambard-AI would 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.”
“It’s immensely exciting to be at the forefront of the AI revolution and to partner with industry leaders HPE and NVIDIA to rapidly build and deploy large-scale research computing infrastructure to create one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.”
“Isambard-AI will offer capacity never seen before in the UK for researchers and industry to harness the huge potential of AI in fields such as robotics, big data, climate research and drug discovery,” adds McIntosh-Smith.
The UK Government’s Frontier AI Taskforce will have priority access to the new national AI Research Resource, focusing on addressing risks posed by advanced AI, including national security threats like bioweapons and cyberattacks.
The resource will also help the AI Safety Institute in researching the safety of frontier AI models and supporting government policies.
Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology says, “Frontier AI models are becoming exponentially more powerful. At our AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park, we have made it clear that Britain is grasping the opportunity to lead the world in adopting this technology safely so we can put it to work and lead healthier, easier and longer lives.”
“This means giving Britain’s leading researchers and scientific talent access to the tools they need to delve into how this complicated technology works. That is why we are investing in building UK’s supercomputers, making sure we cement our place as a world leader in AI safety.”
Brief about Hewlett Packard Enterprise
HPE claims to be a leader in technology solutions, offering services from edge to cloud. With expertise in Cloud Services, AI, and High-Performance Computing, HPE enables businesses to unlock value from their data, fostering innovation, and enhancing operational efficiency.