Skip to the content

Isambard-AI national supercomputer goes live


Mark Say Managing Editor

Get UKAuthority News


Part of Isambard-AI
Image source: University of Bristol

The University of Bristol has announced that the UK’s fastest and most powerful supercomputer is now online.

It said the first phase of Isambard-AI has been made active, with 168 GPUs (graphics processing units) providing a performance of 7.4 petaFLOPS (floating point operations) per second.

The supercomputer has been built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise with a £225 million from the UK Government, and is now in its early stage of use for technologies such as large language models and robotics.

It will soon be available for scientists to carry out research that has not previously been possible in the country. Organisations including the AI Safety Institute are expected to be among the first to use it, and there have been earlier indications that it could be used in areas including automated drug discovery and climate research.

It includes new technologies such as the HPE Cray EX2500 supercomputer, HPE Slingshot 11 interconnect and direct liquid cooling solutions with GH200 Grace Hopper Superchips and highly integrated, heterogeneous CPU-GPU systems from NVIDIA.

Increasing performance

Professor Simon McIntosh-Smith, director of the Bristol Centre for Supercomputing at the University of Bristol, said: “Isambard-AI phase 1 signifies the start of the Isambard-AI service. When the remaining 5,280 GPUs arrive at the university’s National Composites Centre later in the summer, it will increase the performance by a factor of 32.”

Minister for AI Viscount Camrose said: “With the launch of the first stage of University of Bristol’s supercomputer Isambard-AI, we're witnessing a groundbreaking moment for UK science, innovation, and technology. This world class equipment will revolutionise research possibilities here in the UK, with our world first AI Safety Institute among the organisations who are set to benefit by harnessing one of the most powerful computer systems on the planet to drive forward their vital research.

“Not only does Isambard-AI rank among the world's fastest supercomputers, but it also sets the standard for eco-conscious computing, leading the charge in efficiency and sustainability. From AI safety to healthcare and climate research, its capabilities are unparalleled, marking the UK out as a global leader in AI and responsible innovation.”

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.