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Dawn, a joint effort by Dell Technologies, Intel, University of Cambridge and UKRI, will launch the UK’s recently announced AI Research Resource to solve academic, industrial computational challenges.

Credit: Joe Bishop for Cambridge Open Zettascale Lab

Dell Technologies, Intel and the University of Cambridge announce the deployment of the co-designed Dawn Phase 1 supercomputer. Leading technical teams built the U.K.’s fastest AI supercomputer that harnesses the power of both artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. This sets a clear way forward for future U.K. technology leadership and inward investment into the U.K. technology sector.

Dawn kickstarts the recently launched U.K. AI Research Resource (AIRR), which will explore the viability of associated systems and architectures. Dawn brings the U.K. closer to reaching the compute threshold of a quintillion (1018) floating point operations per second – one exaflop, better known as exascale. For perspective: Every person on earth would have to make calculations 24 hours a day for more than four years to equal a second’s worth of processing power in an exascale system.

Dawn was born of a co-design partnership between Dell Technologies, Intel, University of Cambridge and additional investment from UK Research and Innovation. Dawn is the fastest AI supercomputer deployed in the U.K. today and will support some of the U.K.’s largest-ever workloads across both academic research and industrial domains. Usage domains include healthcare, engineering, green fusion energy, climate modelling and frontier science within cosmology and high-energy physics.

A New Dawn for UK’s Scientific Research Communities
Dawn Phase 1 and the already announced Isambard AI supercomputer will join to form the AIRR, a U.K. national facility to help researchers maximize the potential of AI and support critical work into the potential and safe use of the technology. Dawn, supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will vastly increase the country’s AI and simulation compute capacity for both fundamental research and industrial use cases, accelerating research discovery and driving growth within the U.K. knowledge economy.

The new supercomputer is based on Dell PowerEdge XE9640 servers. With its versatile configuration options and liquid cooling technology, the server system is well-equipped to handle the demands of AI and HPC workloads. Direct liquid cooling technology provides a more efficient and cost-effective solution than traditional air-cooled systems.

Each PowerEdge XE9640 server in this system combines two 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors and four Intel Data Center GPU Max accelerators to deliver strong performance and high efficiency for solving real-world scientific problems. The Scientific OpenStack from UK SME StackHPC provides a fully AI- and simulation-optimized cloud supercomputing software environment. This is combined with the oneAPI open software ecosystem and optimized frameworks that help developers speed up AI and HPC workloads and enhance code portability across multiple hardware architectures.

Technical details and performance numbers for Dawn Phase 1 will be released in mid-November during the Supercomputing 23 (SC23) conference in Denver, Colorado.

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