UK Unveils Isambard-AI Supercomputer at Bristol University

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This week, the University of Bristol has powered up Isambard-AI, the UK’s fastest and most potent supercomputer, following a £225 million investment announced by the government last March.

Built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Isambard-AI boasts over 5,000 NVIDIA superchips, enabling it to execute a staggering 200 quadrillion calculations per second. Officially named the AI Research Resource (AIRR), this supercomputer surpasses its predecessor by a factor of ten in computational power, aiming to support critical AI technology development.

Researchers at the university will leverage Isambard-AI to advance AI capabilities, collaborating closely with the UK’s AI Safety Institute. The facility, equipped with thousands of graphics processing units (GPUs), will facilitate cutting-edge research in areas such as climate science and accelerated drug discovery.

Secretary of Science, Innovation, and Technology Michelle Donelan praised the Isambard-AI cluster, highlighting its significance in advancing scientific breakthroughs and reinforcing the UK’s role in global technological innovation. University of Bristol’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Evelyn Welch, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing Bristol’s pivotal role in global technological advancement.

The UK government’s commitment to AI excellence is evident in recent initiatives. Last October, plans to increase taxpayer spending on AI chips and supercomputers to £400 million were unveiled, with an additional £100 million pledged in this year’s Spring Budget to The Alan Turing Institute, the nation’s premier institution for data science and AI.

Isambard-AI symbolizes the UK’s ambition to establish itself as a leading force in AI technology, supporting critical research and innovation that promises to enhance lives globally. This cutting-edge supercomputer at Bristol University signifies a significant step forward in realizing this vision.

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