UK’s New £225m AI Supercomputer Amongst World’s Quickest

The brand new AI supercomputer would be the quickest within the U.Okay. when it launches in 2024 and can leverage synthetic intelligence to drive breakthroughs in cutting-edge science.

The National Composites Center in Bristol, U.K.
The Isambard-AI supercomputer might be housed on the Nationwide Composites Middle in Bristol, U.Okay. Picture: NCC

The U.Okay. authorities is spending £225 million ($280 million) in a bid to construct one of many world’s quickest supercomputers, able to delivering over 200 petaflops – some 200 quadrillion calculations – each second.

Isambard-AI, named after pioneering British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, might be 10 occasions quicker than the U.K.’s current fastest supercomputer, ARCHER2, and is one in all two new machines being constructed to drive breakthroughs in robotics, knowledge analytics, fusion power, healthcare and local weather analysis.

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Constructing Britain’s strongest supercomputer

Constructed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and hosted by the University of Bristol, Isambard-AI will comprise almost 5,000 NVIDIA GH200 Grace Hopper Superchips and can contribute 21 exaflops of AI efficiency to researchers when it opens at Bristol’s Nationwide Composites Middle in mid-2024 (Determine A).

Determine A

A mockup of the Isambard-AI supercomputer, which will be the fastest in the U.K. when it launches in summer 2024.
A mockup of the Isambard-AI supercomputer, which would be the quickest within the U.Okay. when it launches in summer season 2024. Picture: HPE

Simon McIntosh-Smith, a College of Bristol professor and director of the Isambard Nationwide Analysis Facility, mentioned in an HPE press release that Isambard-AI represented “an enormous leap ahead for AI computational energy” for the UK.

“Right this moment, Isambard-AI would rank inside the prime 10 quickest supercomputers on the earth and, when in operation later in 2024, it will likely be one of the vital highly effective AI techniques for open science wherever,” McIntosh-Smith mentioned within the press launch.

He added: “It’s immensely thrilling to be on the forefront of the AI revolution and to associate with business leaders HPE and NVIDIA to quickly construct and deploy large-scale analysis computing infrastructure to create one of the vital highly effective supercomputers on the earth.”

The UK units out to develop into the world chief in AI

Isambard-AI was first announced in September 2023 as a part of the U.Okay. authorities’s plans to ascertain a brand new AI Analysis Useful resource – or AIRR – to “drive pioneering AI analysis and innovation within the UK” and make the nation a world chief in synthetic intelligence.

The funding injection for the new supercomputer was announced by the U.Okay.’s Division for Science, Innovation and Know-how throughout final week’s AI Safety Summit, the place it additionally unveiled plans to triple funding in AIRR from £100 million (£124 million) to £300 million ($372 million).

Isambard-AI might be related to another supercomputer called Dawn, which is being constructed by Dell, Intel and U.Okay. computing consultancy StackHPC in partnership with the College of Cambridge, and is because of begin working within the coming months.

Collectively, Isambard-AI and Daybreak will present researchers and scientists with “greater than 30-times the capability of the U.Okay.’s present public AI computing instruments,” according to DIST.

Supporting the U.Okay. authorities’s analysis into AI dangers and security

The Bristol supercomputing facility might be accessible to a spread of British organizations for the needs of AI analysis. Precedence entry might be given to the U.Okay. authorities’s Frontier AI Taskforce “to assist its work to mitigate the dangers posed by probably the most superior types of AI, together with nationwide safety from the event of bioweapons and cyberattacks,” as acknowledged within the U.K. government’s press release about Isambard-AI.

The ability can even assist work carried out by the AI Safety Institute, the recently-formed authorities physique tasked with testing the security and viability of latest AI fashions earlier than and after deployment to assist inform authorities coverage.

How massive is the AI business within the U.Okay.?

According to the U.K. government, as of March 2023, synthetic intelligence already contributes greater than £3.7 billion ($4.6 billion) to the U.Okay. financial system and employs greater than 50,000 individuals. It claims the nation is residence to twice as many AI corporations as every other European nation, with “lots of extra” establishing store within the U.Okay. every year.

Justin Hotard, govt vice chairman and basic supervisor, HPC, AI & Labs at HPE, mentioned within the HPE press launch that the U.Okay.’s current funding in AI supercomputing underscored “its dedication to taking a worldwide management place in AI.”

Hotard added: “The Isambard-AI system will harness world-leading supercomputing, together with high-performance networking co-developed at HPE’s Bristol labs, to supply the efficiency and scale required for compute-intensive AI tasks.”

He added: “We’re proud to associate with the U.Okay. Authorities and the College of Bristol to present U.Okay. researchers and business entry to Europe’s largest AI system for open science.”

SEE: UK AI Startup Funding: Alan Turing Institute Identifies Huge Gender Disparity

Technical particulars concerning the Isambard-AI supercomputer

Isambard-AI might be constructed utilizing the HPE Cray EX supercomputing framework and can characteristic the HPE Slingshot 11 interconnect framework, which is designed to deal with the large knowledge throughput required for advanced simulations and AI workloads.

When activated, the supercomputer is anticipated to hit over 200 petaflops of computing efficiency as per the Top500 LINPACK benchmark – the usual for measuring a pc system’s processing velocity. This computing energy will enable for 21 exaflops of AI efficiency, an exaflop being a measure of quintillion floating-point operations per second used to gauge specialised AI computational duties. For perspective, the most recent smartphones available on the market are “solely” able to delivering trillions of calculations per second.

The supercomputer might be hosted in a self-cooled, self-contained knowledge middle at NCC, primarily based on the Bristol & Tub Science Park. NCC is one in all seven analysis facilities throughout the U.Okay. that type the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which affords entry to analysis and improvement services and experience that may in any other case be inaccessible to U.Okay. companies.

According to NVIDIA, a second, Arm-based supercomputer coming to the NCC subsequent yr referred to as Isambard 3 will ship an estimated 2.7 petaflops of computing efficiency whereas consuming lower than 270 kilowatts of energy, making it “among the many world’s three greenest non-accelerated supercomputers.”

Ian Buck, vice chairman of hyperscale and HPC at NVIDIA, mentioned within the HPE launch: “In constructing one of many world’s quickest AI supercomputers, the U.Okay. is demonstrating the significance for nations to create their very own infrastructure. Isambard-AI will present researchers with the identical state-of-the-art AI and HPC compute assets utilized by the world’s main AI pioneers, enabling the U.Okay. to introduce the following wave of AI and scientific breakthroughs.”

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