Dell, Intel and University of Cambridge deploy the UK’s fastest AI supercomputer

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Dell, Intel, and the University of Cambridge have jointly announced the deployment of the Dawn Phase 1 supercomputer.

This cutting-edge AI supercomputer stands as the fastest of its kind in the UK today. It marks a groundbreaking fusion of AI and high-performance computing (HPC) technologies, showcasing the potential to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Dawn Phase 1 is the cornerstone of the recently launched UK AI Research Resource (AIRR), demonstrating the nation’s commitment to exploring innovative systems and architectures.

This supercomputer brings the UK closer to achieving the exascale; a computing threshold of a quintillion (10^18) floating point operations per second. To put this into perspective, the processing power of an exascale system equals what every person on Earth would calculate in over four years if they were working non-stop, 24 hours a day.

Operational at the Cambridge Open Zettascale Lab, Dawn utilises Dell PowerEdge XE9640 servers, providing an unparalleled platform for the Intel Data Center GPU Max Series accelerator. This collaboration ensures a diverse ecosystem through oneAPI, fostering an environment of choice.

The system’s capabilities extend across various domains, including healthcare, engineering, green fusion energy, climate modelling, cosmology, and high-energy physics.

Adam Roe, EMEA HPC technical director at Intel, said:

“Dawn considerably strengthens the scientific and AI compute capability available in the UK and it’s on the ground and operational today at the Cambridge Open Zettascale Lab.

Dell PowerEdge XE9640 servers offer a no-compromises platform to host the Intel Data Center GPU Max Series accelerator, which opens up the ecosystem to choice through oneAPI.

I’m very excited to see the sorts of early science this machine can deliver and continue to strengthen the Open Zettascale Lab partnership between Dell Technologies, Intel, and the University of Cambridge, and further broaden that to the UK scientific and AI community.”

Glimpse into the future

Dawn Phase 1 is not just a standalone achievement; it’s part of a broader strategy.

The collaborative endeavour aims to deliver a Phase 2 supercomputer in 2024, promising tenfold performance levels. This progression would propel the UK’s AI capability, strengthening the successful industry partnership.

The supercomputer’s technical foundation lies in Dell PowerEdge XE9640 servers, renowned for their versatile configurations and efficient liquid cooling technology. This innovation ensures optimal handling of AI and HPC workloads, offering a more effective solution than traditional air-cooled systems.

Tariq Hussain, Head of UK Public Sector at Dell, commented:

“Collaborations like the one between the University of Cambridge, Dell Technologies and Intel, alongside strong inward investment, are vital if we want the compute to unlock the high-growth AI potential of the UK. It is paramount that the government invests in the right technologies and infrastructure to ensure the UK leads in AI and exascale-class simulation capability.

It’s also important to embrace the full spectrum of the technology ecosystem, including GPU diversity, to ensure customers can tackle the growing demands of generative AI, industrial simulation modelling and ground-breaking scientific research.”

As the world awaits the full technical details and performance numbers of Dawn Phase 1 – slated for release in mid-November during the Supercomputing 23 (SC23) conference in Denver, Colorado – the UK stands at the precipice of a transformative era in scientific and AI research.

This collaboration between industry giants and academia not only accelerates research discovery but also propels the UK’s knowledge economy to new heights.

(Image Credit: Joe Bishop for Cambridge Open Zettascale Lab)

See also: UK paper highlights AI risks ahead of global Safety Summit

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