HPE awarded $277M contract to build the UK’s most advanced AI supercomputer

The UK Government has allocated approximately $277 million  (£225 million) to commission the nation’s fastest supercomputer, Isambard-AI. The University of Bristol, in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), is spearheading the development, part of a wider investment package amounting to roughly $370 million (£300 million) dedicated to the new national Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (AIRR).

Set to become operational in the summer of 2024 at the National Composites Centre (NCC), Isambard-AI is expected to outperform the UK’s current fastest supercomputer by a factor of ten. It will be engineered using advanced HPE Cray EX supercomputers, integrating over 5,000 Nvidia GH200 superchips, targeting a threshold of 200 quadrillion calculations per second, according to HPE.

HPE is  collaborating with the University of Bristol on a heat re-use model, extracting waste heat from the Isambard-AI system to use as renewable energy to heat local buildings.

The Isambard-AI system will be part of an interconnected network including Dawn, an additional supercomputer cluster at the University of Cambridge, thereby increasing the capacity of the national AIRR.

Prioritized access to the supercomputer will be granted to the U.K government’s Frontier AI Taskforce, aiding its efforts to address the complex challenges posed by advanced AI, including cybersecurity and bioweapon threats.

[Image courtesy: NCC]

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