The UK announces the creation of Isambard-AI supercomputer

The UK Government has proclaimed an investment of 225 million GBP to forge its most potent supercomputer to date, christened “Isambard-AI”. The new system will be installed at the National Composites Centre (NCC) within the Bristol and Bath Science Park, manufactured by HPE. It will harness 5,448 NVIDIA GH200 Grace Hopper Superchips to deliver an estimated 200 FP64 PetaFLOPS of performance, propelling this supercomputer into the global top five.

The National Composites Centre (NCC) which will host Isambard-AI
National Composites Centre (NCC)

Constructed upon the HPE Cray EX architecture, the Isambard-AI supercomputing system boasts nearly 25PB of storage, utilizing Cray Clusterstor E1000 and HPE Slingshot 11 interconnect. It will implement advanced liquid cooling technologies and a thermal reuse model for heat dissipation. This system not only cools the chips but also provides heating for local buildings.

The GH200 Grace Hopper Superchips, employed in the system, are NVIDIA’s premier data center products launched in August of this year, amalgamating Hopper architecture GPUs with Arm-based Grace CPUs, interconnected via NVLink-C2C. The chip features 72 Arm v9 CPU cores, a GPU equivalent to the H100 compute card with 16,896 FP32 CUDA cores and is equipped with HBM3e memory. However, it remains uncertain whether Isambard-AI will utilize the 96GB or 141GB version of the chip.

Professor Simon McIntosh-Smith, the Director of the Isambard National Research Facility at the University of Bristol, asserts that the Isambard-AI supercomputing system is slated to commence operations later in 2024. It will offer over 21 ExaFLOPS of artificial intelligence inference and training workloads, positioning it among the most formidable AI systems in the open science arena. In addition to the supercomputer investment, the UK Government is allocating an additional 75 million GBP to establish a National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Center.