UK invests $273 million in AI supercomputer
The UK government will spend $273 million on an artificial intelligence supercomputer, illustrating the country’s ambition to catch up to the U.S. and China in the field.
Known as Isambard-AI after the 19th century British engineer Isambard Brunel, the supercomputer will be built by the University of Bristol. Bletchley Park is hosting the U.K.’s AI safety summit, which coincided with the announcement.
In a statement, the British government said Isambard-AI will be Britain’s most advanced computer and once completed will be ten times faster than the U.K.’s current fastest machine. The computer will use 5,448 GH200 Grace Hopper Superchips, which are powerful AI chips made by the U.S. semiconductor giant Nvidia, a leader in high-performance computing.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise will help build the computer, which will eventually connect to Cambridge’s Dawn supercomputer. The computer, built by Dell and U.K. company StackPC, contains more than 1,000 Intel chips and uses water-cooling to reduce power consumption. The project is expected to begin operating within two months.
Britain’s government hopes the two supercomputers combined will advance fusion energy, health care, and climate science.
Researchers will be able to examine advanced AI models for safety features and drive breakthroughs in clean energy and drug discovery with the machines starting in summer 2024, according to the government.
As part of its efforts to secure the country’s chip supplies and reduce its dependence on East Asia for the most important microchips, the government had previously allocated £1 billion for the semiconductor industry.