UK’s fastest supercomputer switched on 


The computer is officially the most sustainable supercomputer in the UK 


The UK’s fastest and most powerful supercomputer, known as Isambard-AI, has been switched on at the University of Bristol this week. 

The Isambard-AI supercomputer was first announced by the government last March alongside a £225 million investment. The facility has been built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and contains over 5,000 NVIDIA superchips, allowing it to complete 200 quadrillion calculations per second. 

Officially named the AI Research Resource (AIRR), the facility is ten times more powerful than the previous leading supercomputer in the UK. Researchers will use the facility to support critical work on the development of AI technology, working closely alongside the UK’s AI Safety Institute.  

The facility includes thousands of graphics processing units (GPUs) and will be used to train the large language models. as Additional focus areas include climate research and accelerating automated drug discovery. 

“The Isambard-AI cluster will be one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, and will help industry experts and researchers harness the game-changing potential of AI, including through the mission-critical work of our Frontier AI Taskforce,” said Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan in a press release. 

“This will equip the UK with the means to drive the next wave of scientific breakthroughs and positions Bristol as a vital cog in global technological discovery that will improve people’s lives,” added University of Bristol’s Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Evelyn Welch. 

The UK is on a mission to become a global AI superpower. Last October, the government announced that taxpayer spending on AI chips and supercomputers is set to increase to £400 million. Additionally, in this year’s Spring Budget, chancellor Jeremy Hunt pledged £100 million in funding to The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and AI. 

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