HPE to build 21 ExaFLOPS AI supercomputers powered by NVIDIA in the UK – HPC News Analysis
The system, called Isambard-AI, will be built on the HPE Cray EX supercomputer architecture and will consist of 5,448 NVIDIA GH200 Grace Hopper Superchips, which combine NVIDIA’s Arm-based Grace CPU with a Hopper-based GPU. The system will also include HPE Slingshot 11 connectivity and approximately 25 petabytes of storage with a Cray Clusterstor E1000 optimized for AI workflows.
The university said the system will achieve a 10-fold performance improvement over the UK’s fastest system when Isambard-AI is operational, and will enable Isambard-AI to perform more than 21 quintillion AI-optimized floating point operations per second.
Isambard-AI will also feature direct liquid cooling capabilities to improve energy efficiency and reduce the impact of the carbon footprint. The system will be hosted in a self-contained, self-cooled data centre, using the HPE Performance Optimized Data Center (POD), and will be located at the National Composites Center (NCC) (see image above), based in Bristol. and Bath Science Park. It is scheduled to open at NCC next summer.
HPE is also collaborating with the University of Bristol on an energy-efficient heat reuse model, extracting waste heat from the Isambard-AI system for domestic building heating, supporting 2030/2040 net-zero carbon efficiency targets set by the UK Government. .
The funding injection is part of a £300m package to create a national AI Research Resource (AIRR) for the UK announced at the government’s AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park.
The new Bristol facility will be used by UK organizations to harness the power of artificial intelligence to train large language models (LLMs), big data and robotics, and to accelerate automated drug discovery and climate research.
Isambard-AI will connect to a new cluster of supercomputers at the University of Cambridge, called Dawn, which is being developed to provide additional capacity as part of the new national AIRR.
Professor Simon Mackintosh-Smith, Director of the Isambard National Research Facility at the University of Bristol, said: “Isambard-AI represents a huge leap forward for the computational power of AI in the UK. Today, Isambard-AI will be ranked among the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world, and when it Launched later in 2024, it will be one of the most powerful AI systems for open science anywhere.
“It is extremely exciting to be at the forefront of the AI revolution and to partner with industry leaders HPE and NVIDIA to rapidly build and deploy large-scale research computing infrastructure to create one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Isambard-AI will provide capacity never seen before in the UK for researchers and industry to harness the enormous potential of artificial intelligence in areas such as robotics, big data, climate research and drug discovery.
“Today’s announcement of the UK’s major investment in AI supercomputing underscores its commitment to taking a global leadership position in AI,” said Justin Hottard, executive vice president and general manager of HPC, AI and Labs at HPE. “The Isambard-AI system will harness supercomputing.” World-leading technology, including high-performance networks co-developed at HPE Labs in Bristol, to deliver the performance and scale required for compute-intensive AI projects. We are proud to partner with the UK Government and the University of Bristol to give UK researchers and industry access to the largest Artificial Intelligence System in Europe for Open Science.
“By building one of the world’s fastest AI supercomputers, the UK is showing the importance of countries building their own infrastructure,” said Ian Buck, vice president of Hyperscale and HPC at NVIDIA. Isambard-AI will provide researchers with the same edge computing resources for AI and high-performance computing used by the world’s leading AI leaders, enabling the UK to deliver the next wave of AI and scientific discovery.
The government’s new Frontier AI task force will have priority access to support its work to mitigate the risks posed by more advanced forms of artificial intelligence, including national security from bioweapons development and cyberattacks. This resource will also support the work of the AI Safety Institute, developing a research program investigating the safety of frontier AI models and supporting government policy with this analysis.
Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said: “Frontier AI models are becoming dramatically more powerful. At our AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, we made it clear that Britain is seizing the opportunity to lead the world in adopting this technology safely so we can put it to work and live healthier, easier and longer lives.
“This means giving Britain’s top researchers and scientific talent access to the tools they need to delve into how this complex technology works. That’s why we’re investing in building supercomputers in the UK, and ensuring we strengthen our position as a global leader in AI safety.
Richard Oldfield, CEO of the National Compound Centre, said: “We are extremely proud to host Isambard-AI at the National Compound Centre. This supports our vision of bringing together world-class innovators, academic researchers and cutting-edge technology to solve some of the world’s most complex engineering challenges.
“Building on our experience and state-of-the-art capabilities in accelerating the industrial transformation from basic research to industrial applications, we are delighted to be home to the UK’s National AI Supercomputing Facility.”
The first phase of the system, available in March 2024, will use Isambard 3 – a TOP500-class supercomputer service for artificial intelligence and high-performance computing (HPC). It is scheduled to be installed at the NCC at the beginning of 2024, and has been developed in collaboration with the GW4 University Group – an alliance made up of the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. It will provide early access to UK-based scientists, researchers and developers so they can start their research as soon as possible.
GW4 Alliance Director, Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE, said: “Isambard-AI builds on the success of the GW4 Isambard supercomputer, which began as a collaborative research community GW4, and was the world’s first Arm-based computer to enter production use. With GW4 Isambard, we have already seen progress It has been achieved through research in vital areas such as Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis and supporting patients with heart failure.
“I am delighted that the strength and innovation of GW4 Isambard, and the importance of supporting academic and industry collaboration, has helped enable this new national resource for AI research – which will boost the country’s digital growth and AI capabilities.”
Bristol is one of the UK’s top universities for artificial intelligence and scientific computing research. It already hosts the latest computing technologies, including the previously announced Isambard 3 supercomputer, while it is home to the UKRI Center for Doctoral Training in Interactive AI and the newly announced UKRI AI Center for Doctoral Training in Practice-Oriented AI.