September: Isambard-AI | News and features

The University of Bristol has been selected to host a new national supercomputer research facility, focused on artificial intelligence, the government announced today.

The new AI Research Resource (AIRR) will serve as a national resource for researchers and industry experts driving AI innovation and scientific discovery – putting Bristol at the center of the AI ​​revolution.

Known as Isambard-AI, it is expected to be the UK’s most powerful supercomputer and among the most powerful in Europe when it opens at the National Compound Center (NCC) next year. The government announced its supercomputer plans in March, backed by a £900m investment to transform the UK’s computing capacity and create dedicated research resources for artificial intelligence.

The new multi-million pound Bristol facility will be used by a wide range of organizations from across the UK to harness the power of artificial intelligence, which is already a key driver of emerging technologies such as big data and robotics. The new supercomputing facility will also play a vital role in important areas such as accelerating automated drug discovery and climate research.

Bristol is one of the UK’s top universities for artificial intelligence and scientific computing research. It already hosts cutting-edge computing technology, with the Isambard 3 supercomputer scheduled to be installed later this year to support research into AI and machine learning, while the University of Bristol is home to the UKRI Center for Doctoral Training in Interactive AI. .

The Isambard-AI project is led by Bristol experts Professor Simon Mackintosh-Smith and Dr Sadaf Alam with their High Performance Computing (HPC) team, working in collaboration with the GW4 University Group – an alliance made up of the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Simon Mackintosh-Smith, Professor of High Performance Computing at the University of Bristol and leader of the project, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the site to host the UK’s first AI research resource.

“Isambard-AI will be one of the world’s first large-scale open AI supercomputers, and will build on our expertise in designing and operating cutting-edge computational facilities, such as the upcoming Isambard 3.”

The next-generation capabilities are expected to put this city and region on the global map for artificial intelligence and high-performance computing (HPC), and enhance the West of England’s reputation as a place for collaboration and innovation.

Professor Phil Taylor, Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol, said: “AI is set to be as important as the Steam Age, with ramifications in almost every area of ​​academia and industry. Bristol is proud to be at the forefront of this revolution.

“Our selection to host a new national AI supercomputer reflects the university’s latest research in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“We have unique experience in quickly building and deploying large-scale research computing infrastructure, and we are delighted to play an integral role in establishing the UK as an international hub for AI.”

Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said: “We are supporting the future of British innovation, investing in world-leading AI research resources in Bristol that will stimulate scientific discovery and keep the UK at the forefront of AI development.

“The Isambard-AI cluster will be one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, and will help industry experts and researchers harness the game-changing potential of AI, including through the mission-critical work of the Frontier AI Task Force.”

Dr Joanna Jenkinson, Director of the GW4 Alliance, said: “Building on the success of the GW4 Isambard supercomputer, we are delighted that the University of Bristol has been selected to develop the UK’s National AI Supercomputer Facility.

“GW4 Isambard began as a collaborative research community for GW4 and was the world’s first Arm-based supercomputer to enter production use. Due to the success of Isambard, we secured further funding, and I had the pleasure of attending a government delegation’s visit to the site of the announced GW4 Isambard 3 facility Recently, the £10 million project I am delighted by the strength and innovation of GW4 Isambard and the importance of supporting academic collaborations that have helped enable this national project.

“This important investment will boost digital growth and AI capabilities in our region, significantly supporting the government’s ambitions to establish the UK as a science and technology superpower.”

The NCC, based in Bristol and Bath Business Park, is one of seven research centers across the UK that make up the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, helping to turn great ideas into reality by providing access to world-class R&D facilities and expertise. Which would otherwise be out of reach for many UK businesses.

Catherine Bennett, CEO of high-value manufacturing Catapult, said: “This investment in Isambard AI is hugely exciting and paves the way for ground-breaking research with transformative potential. We are delighted that the University of Bristol and the National Composites Center will be home to these national assets. As part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, NCC is already a center of excellence in digital engineering. Hosting Isambard AI will provide a springboard to further accelerate the journey from digital innovation to impact.

The UK will host the first Global AI Safety Summit on 1-2 November, bringing together leading countries, technology organisations, academics and civil society to discuss the risks created or exacerbated by the most powerful AI systems, and how to address and mitigate them. The summit will also look at how to harness the benefits of safe AI to improve lives.

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