Edinburgh set to host new exascale supercomputer

A new exascale supercomputer 50 times more powerful than anything else in the UK is set to be built in Edinburgh.

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Originally announced in March as part of a £900 million investment to upgrade the UK’s high-end computing capability, the new supercomputer will be used to bolster research into areas including medicine, climate science and clean energy. The latest announcement confirms that the exascale computer will be sited at the University of Edinburgh, home to the UK’s current top-end system, ARCHER2.

Exascale-level computing has only recently been achieved and is emerging as the next benchmark for supercomputing. The new systems are built to carry out extremely complex functions with increased speed and precision, enabling researchers to accelerate their work into challenges such as the development of new drugs and advances in nuclear fusion.

“State-of-the-art compute infrastructure is critical to unlock advances in research and innovation, with diverse applications from drug design through to energy security and extreme weather modelling, benefiting communities across the UK,” said UKRI chief executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser.

“This next phase of investment, located at Edinburgh, will help to keep the UK at the forefront of emerging technologies and facilitate the collaborations needed to explore and develop game-changing insights across disciplines.”

The announcement follows the news earlier this month that Bristol will be host to a new AI supercomputer - Isambard-AI - which it’s claimed will be one of the most powerful for AI in Europe. The cluster will act as part of the national AI Research Resource (AIRR) to maximise the potential of AI and support work around the safe development and use of the technology.

Both announcements come as the UK prepares to host the world’s first AI Safety Summit on 1 and 2 November. The summit will bring together countries, technology organisations, academics and civil society to discuss global consensus on the risks emerging from advances in AI and how they are managed, while also embracing the benefits of the safe use of the technology to improve lives.