News Report Technology
November 02, 2023

UK Government Invests £225 Million to Create Isambard-AI, Country’s Most Powerful AI Supercomputer

The UK Government in collaboration with the University of Bristol and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), is investing £225 million to create Isambard-AI, the nation’s most powerful AI supercomputer.

This move is part of a broader £300 million initiative aimed at establishing a national Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (AIRR) that positions the UK as a global leader in AI.

Isambard-AI is set to be ten times more potent than the current fastest in the nation, at the National Composites Centre (NCC) in the summer of 2024.

This transformative development is poised to catapult the UK to the forefront of AI research, supporting a wide array of applications, from drug discovery to climate research, and reinforcing the nation’s commitment to AI safety and national security.

HPE will build Isambard-AI using the next-generation HPE Cray EX supercomputers and more than 5,000 state-of-the-art NVIDIA GH200 Superchips, a configuration that will enable the supercomputer to perform up to 200 quadrillion calculations per second.

Opening Doors to Research

The Isambard-AI project will be a game-changer for AI-driven research in the UK, offering unprecedented computing capacity and setting new standards in the field. It aligns with the UK’s strategy to lead in AI and opens doors to research in critical areas such as robotics, big data, climate research, and automated drug discovery.

It is among the world’s top ten fastest supercomputers today and is projected to be one of the most powerful when operational in 2024.

HPE’s executive vice president and general manager of AI & Labs, Justin Hotard, emphasized the UK’s commitment to global leadership in AI and the importance of this supercomputer for compute-intensive AI projects. HPE’s innovative design includes high-performance networking co-developed at HPE’s Bristol labs, promising unparalleled performance and scalability for AI research.

Isambard-AI will be connected to the University of Cambridge’s supercomputer cluster, named Dawn, which forms part of the national AIRR.

NVIDIA’s vice president of hyperscale and HPC, Ian Buck, said, “In building one of the world’s fastest AI supercomputers, the UK is demonstrating the importance for nations to create their own infrastructure.

“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,” Buck added.

Mitigating National Security Concerns

The Government’s newly formed Frontier AI Taskforce will receive priority access to Isambard-AI, leveraging its capabilities to mitigate risks associated with advanced AI forms, including national security concerns like bioweapons and cyberattacks.

The resource will also support the AI Safety Institute in its mission to ensure the safety of frontier AI models, providing critical insights for government policy.

Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation, and Technology, emphasizes the exponential growth of frontier AI models and the UK’s commitment to becoming a global leader in adopting AI safely. This strategic investment in supercomputing infrastructure is designed to empower leading researchers and scientific talent, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of AI advancements.

Furthermore, Isambard-AI’s energy-efficient design incorporates direct liquid cooling capabilities within the HPE Cray EX supercomputer architecture, minimizing its carbon footprint. The system will be hosted in a self-contained, self-cooled data center using the HPE Performance Optimized Data Center (POD) and will be situated at the National Composites Centre (NCC) at the Bristol and Bath Science Park.

HPE is also collaborating with the University of Bristol on a heat re-use model to extract waste heat from Isambard-AI for renewable energy to heat local buildings. The focus on energy efficiency and sustainability in Isambard-AI’s design aligns with the UK’s Net Zero carbon efficiency targets, positioning it as a leader in environmentally responsible computing.

Disclaimer

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About The Author

Kumar is an experienced Tech Journalist with a specialization in the dynamic intersections of AI/ML, marketing technology, and emerging fields such as crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. With over 3 years of experience in the industry, Kumar has established a proven track record in crafting compelling narratives, conducting insightful interviews, and delivering comprehensive insights. Kumar's expertise lies in producing high-impact content, including articles, reports, and research publications for prominent industry platforms. With a unique skill set that combines technical knowledge and storytelling, Kumar excels at communicating complex technological concepts to diverse audiences in a clear and engaging manner.

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Kumar Gandharv
Kumar Gandharv

Kumar is an experienced Tech Journalist with a specialization in the dynamic intersections of AI/ML, marketing technology, and emerging fields such as crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. With over 3 years of experience in the industry, Kumar has established a proven track record in crafting compelling narratives, conducting insightful interviews, and delivering comprehensive insights. Kumar's expertise lies in producing high-impact content, including articles, reports, and research publications for prominent industry platforms. With a unique skill set that combines technical knowledge and storytelling, Kumar excels at communicating complex technological concepts to diverse audiences in a clear and engaging manner.

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