Edinburgh ‘poised’ to home exascale supercomputer

Edinburgh Exascale computer Image credit: f11photo / Shutterstock

The government has announced that Edinburgh is the “preferred choice” to home a new supercomputer that could turbocharge advances in AI, medicine and low-carbon energy.

The exascale computer is anticipated to have 50 times more firepower than the country’s current highest-performing computer, the ARCHER2, which is also based in the city.

It follows the plans set out last month to build the “most powerful” supercomputer in the UK in Bristol.

Both supercomputers will be funded by the £900m AI Research Resource (AIRR), announced in the Spring Budget.

It is not clear how much of that budget the Edinburgh supercomputer will require. UKTN has contacted the Department for Science, Technology and Innovation for comment.

In an announcement, the government said Edinburgh is “poised” to home the advanced computer, which would be hosted at the University of Edinburgh.

UKTN understands that an analysis by the UK Research and Innovation agency identified Edinburgh as the best location for the exascale computer and that the government is moving towards talks with potential suppliers.

“This new UK government-funded exascale computer in Edinburgh will provide British researchers with an ultra-fast, versatile resource to support pioneering work into AI safety, life-saving drugs, and clean low-carbon energy,” said Michelle Donelan, the tech secretary.

Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, said: “We have already seen the vital work being carried out by ARCHER2 in Edinburgh and this new exascale system, backed by the UK government, will keep Scotland at the forefront of science and innovation.”

It comes as the UK is looking to position itself as a leader in AI, with the government hosting an AI safety summit on 1 and 2 November.

Last week £70m was made available by the government for ‘next-generation’ telecommunications tech and a £60m regional fund.