Dawn has been created through a highly innovative and long-term co-design partnership between the University of Cambridge, UK Research & Innovation, the UK Atomic Energy Authority and global technology leaders Intel and Dell Technologies. This partnership provides highly valuable technology first-mover status and internal investment in the UK technology sector.
Dawn, supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will significantly increase the country’s AI and simulation computing capacity for both basic research and industrial use, accelerating research discovery and driving growth in the UK knowledge economy. It is expected to drive significant advances in healthcare, green fusion energy development and climate modeling.
Dawn Phase 1 and the already announced Isambard AI supercomputer at the University of Bristol will join forces to form the AI Research Resource (AIRR), a UK national facility to help researchers maximize the potential of AI and support critical work on potential and safe use of technology.
Dr Paul Calleja, Director of Research Computing Services at the University of Cambridge, said: “Dawn Phase 1 represents a major step forward in AI and simulation capabilities for the UK, deployed and ready for use now. Dawn was born from an innovative co-design partnership between the University of Cambridge, UKAEA, Dell Technologies and Intel.
“The Phase 1 system plays an important role in a larger context, where this co-design activity is hoped to continue, with the aim of delivering a Phase 2 supercomputer in 2024 that will boast ten times the performance. If brought forward, Dawn Phase 2 would significantly increase the UK AI capability and continue this successful industry partnership.”
World-leading engineering teams from the university, Intel and Dell Technologies built Dawn, which harnesses the power of both AI and high-performance computing (HPC) to solve some of the world’s most challenging and pressing problems.
Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan announced this investment at the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park: “Frontier AI models are becoming exponentially more powerful. At our AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, we made it clear that the UK understands the opportunity to lead the world when it’s about using this technology safely so we can put it to work and live healthier, simpler and longer lives.
“This means giving the UK’s leading researchers and scientific talent access to the tools they need to delve into how this complex technology works. That’s why we’re investing in building the UK’s supercomputers and ensuring we cement our place as a world leader in AI -security.”
Professor Emily Shuckburgh, Director of Cambridge Zero and the Institute of Computing for Climate Science said: “The coupling of AI and simulation methods is a growing and increasingly important part of climate research. It is central to data-driven prediction and equation discovery, both of which are at the forefront of climate science.
“This incredible new resource – Dawn – in Cambridge will enable software engineers and researchers at the Institute of Computing for Climate Science to accelerate their work and help meet the global challenges of climate change.”
Dawn brings the UK closer to reaching the computational threshold of one quintillion floating-point operations per second – an exaflop, better known as exascale. For perspective: every human on earth would have to do calculations 24 hours a day for more than four years to equal one second of processing power in an exascale system.
Hosted on the Cambridge Open Zettascale Labs website, Dawn is the fastest AI supercomputer in use in the UK today and will support some of the UK’s largest ever workloads in both academic research and industrial domains. Importantly, it is the UK’s first step towards developing a future Exascale system.
Adam Roe, CTO of EMEA HPC at Intel, said: “Dawn significantly strengthens the scientific and AI computing capacity available in the UK, and is in place and operational today at the Cambridge Open Zettascale Lab.
“I’m very excited to see the kind 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, further broadening it into the UK science and AI community.”
Tariq Hussain, Head of UK Public Sales, Dell Technologies, said: “Partnerships such as (this one), along with strong in-house investment, are vital if we are to enable computing to unlock the high-growth AI potential in the UK. It is of utmost importance that the Government invests in the right technology and infrastructure to ensure that the UK is a leader in AI and exascale simulation capacity.
“It is also important to embrace the full spectrum of the technology ecosystem, including GPU diversity, to ensure customers can handle the growing demands of generative AI, industrial simulation modeling and cutting-edge scientific research.”
Dr Rob Akers, Director of Computing Programs & Senior Fellow at UKAEA, added: “Dawn will form an important part of a diverse UKRI supercomputing ecosystem, helping to advance high-adversarial simulation and AI capabilities, ensuring UK science and engineering is first in the world. queue to exploit the latest innovation in disruptive HPC hardware. In the short term, Dawn will allow UKAEA’s fusion energy program to form a powerful and exciting partnership across the Atlantic with US laboratories utilizing the new 2ExaFlop supercomputer AURORA at Argonne, Dawns” Big Sister”.
“Fusion has long been called an ‘exascale grand challenge’. Exascale is finally upon us and I am confident that the many collaborations gathering around Dawn will be a powerful ingredient in extracting the value promised by exascale – for the UK to deliver fusion power to the electricity grid in the 2040s, to realize Net Zero more generally, to create high-value UK jobs in AI and ‘digital’ and to drive economic growth across the UK.”
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