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UK to invest £900 million on exascale supercomputer

Westminster bridge and parliament in the background

One of the biggest financial and political events happened on Wednesday in the UK, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) Jeremy Hunt unveiled the government's latest budget which included things like 30 hours of free childcare for those as young as nine months to help mothers get back to work (something he has been pushing for right across his budget policies). One of the other policies he outlined was that the UK would spend £900 million on an exascale supercomputer and the establishment of a new AI Research Resource.

Exascale computing is a new milestone that has recently been achieved and just means that the computer is capable of doing more processing. This is great for scientists who need this vast computing power to develop medicines, solve climate change problems, and more. Hunt said that the first funds of this investment will be available starting this year.

Commenting on the supercomputer plans, Hunt said:

“Because AI needs computing horsepower, I today commit around £900 million of funding to implement the recommendations in the independent Future Of Compute Review for an exascale supercomputer. The power that AI’s complex algorithms need can also be provided by quantum computing. So today we publish a quantum strategy which will set our vision to be a world-leading quantum-enabled economy by 2033 with a research and innovation programme totalling £2.5 billion.”

In addition to the £900 million for a supercomputer, the Chancellor also announced the Manchester Prize, an AI award that individuals or teams can win if they help to further advance AI research. The name was chosen for this award because the world’s first stored-program computer was built at the University of Manchester in 1948 and is dubbed "Manchester baby". The government said the UK’s most powerful supercomputer is 28th in the world, it’ll be wanting to get a bit higher in the future.

Source: PA Media (Yahoo! Finance)

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