3 min Devices

Intel and Dell build fastest UK AI supercomputer

Intel and Dell build fastest UK AI supercomputer

Intel, Dell Technologies and the University of Cambridge have built the fastest AI supercomputer in the United Kingdom. The new computing power is aimed at addressing “academic and industrial challenges.”

Although the exact specs have not been disclosed, the parties involved are already framing this first Dawn effort as a step towards an exascale system: a “Phase 2” supercomputer with 10 times the current computing power is planned next year. The current version, together with the Isambard supercomputer in Bristol, forms the so-called AIRR (UK AI Research Resource), which will provide the UK with AI hardware for research into the potential and safe handling of AI.

The Isambard computer is set up by HPE and based on 5,000 GH200 Grace Hopper Superchips from Nvidia. This would put the performance figures at 21 exaFLOPS.

Dawn supercomputer

For the Dawn supercomputer, exact specifications will not be announced until mid-November. However, it’s already known that Dell will provide PowerEdge XE9640 servers each containing two 4th generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors and 4 Intel GPU Max chips. To be as accessible as possible to researchers, a cloud environment called Scientific OpenStack is available. This comes from UK SME StackHPC.

“Dawn considerably strengthens the scientific and AI compute capability available in the UK, and it’s on the ground, operational today at the Cambridge Open Zettascale Lab,” said Adam Roe, EMA HPC technical director at Intel. “Dell PowerEdge XE9640 servers offer a no-compromises platform to host the Intel Data Center GPU Max Series accelerator, which opens up the ecosystem to choice through oneAPI. I’m very excited to see the sorts of early science this machine can deliver and continue to strengthen the Open Zettascale Lab partnership between Dell Technologies, Intel and the University of Cambridge, and further broaden that to the U.K. scientific and AI community.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Eviden is already building an exascale supercomputer called Jupiter, construction of which will begin early next year.

Tip: Eviden to build first European exascale supercomputer for 273 million

Battle for AI dominance

The announcement of the UK’s fastest AI supercomputer comes in the same week that policymakers worldwide are busy regulating the technology. The G7 has drafted a code of conduct for AI companies to ensure secure applications, with transparency and ensuring privacy at its core.

In addition: this week, the British government hosted the AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park. For some time, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been trying to make the United Kingdom the centre of AI regulation. However, several world leaders such as President Biden and President Macron have chosen not to travel to the summit. Regardless, Intel and Dell seem to see opportunities for AI dominance on the island, with today’s announcement setting the stage for more ambitious plans.

Also read: Tested and approved? Google invests $2 billion in Anthropic