Cambridge to get new AI supercomputer

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The University of Cambridge is set to receive a new AI supercomputer as part of a £10 million partnership between the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The system, which is supported by Cambridge’s Research Computing Service, aims to help companies to create real business value from the use of advanced computing infrastructure.

The supercomputer is part of the UK government’s AI Sector Deal, which involves more than 50 leading technology companies and organisations. The deal is worth almost £1 billion, including around £300 million of private sector investment in AI.

‘AI research requires supercomputing capacity capable of processing huge amounts of data at very high speeds, said Dr Paul Calleja, Director of the University’s Research Computing Service. ‘Cambridge’s supercomputer provides researchers with the fast and affordable supercomputing power they need for AI work.’

UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock stated: ‘The UK must be at the forefront of emerging technologies, pushing boundaries and harnessing innovation to change people’s lives for the better. Artificial Intelligence is at the centre of our plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business. We have a great track record and are home to some of the world’s biggest names in AI like Deepmind, Swiftkey and Babylon, but there is so much more we can do. By boosting AI skills and data-driven technologies we will make sure that we continue to build a Britain that is shaping the future.’

Building on the commitment made in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy and its AI Grand Challenge, the AI Sector Deal marks the first phase of a major innovation-focused investment drive in AI which aims to help the UK generate £232 billion – around 10 per cent of GDP – through the use of AI and advanced computing technology.

The deal will help establish the UK as a research hotspot, with measures to ensure the innovators and tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow are based in the UK, with investment in the high-level post-graduate skills needed to capitalise on technology’s huge potential.

It includes money for training for 8,000 specialist computer science teachers, 1,000 government-funded AI PhDs by 2025 and a commitment to develop a prestigious global Turing Fellowship programme to attract and retain the best research talent in AI to the UK.

‘Artificial intelligence provides limitless opportunities to develop new, efficient and accessible products and services which transform the way we live and work,’ said UK government Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark. ‘Today’s new deal with industry will ensure we have the right investment, infrastructure and highly-skilled workforce to establish the UK as a driving force in the development and commercial use of artificial intelligence technologies.’