NVIDIA to build the UK’s most powerful supercomputer to aid AI research in healthcare


US tech giant NVIDIA has announced plans to build the UK’s most powerful supercomputer, to help healthcare researchers.

The Cambridge-1 supercomputer is expected to come online by the end of the year and is intended for artificial intelligence (AI) research into medical challenges, including those presented by COVID-19.

Speaking at his GPU Technology Conference keynote, NVIDIA founder and CEO, Jensen Huang, said: “The Cambridge-1 supercomputer will serve as a hub of innovation for the UK and further the groundbreaking work being done by the nation’s researchers in critical healthcare and drug discovery.”

NVIDIA will invest around £40 million in the NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD system, which is capable of delivering more than 400 petaflops of AI performance and eight petaflops of Linpack performance.

Researchers from GSK, AstraZeneca, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London and Oxford Nanopore Technologies are amongst the first planned to use the supercomputer.


Cambridge-1 is planned to be used for projects that push for better patient care, diagnosis and delivery of critical medicines and vaccines around the world.

The system’s four key focus areas will be: joint industry research to solve large-scale healthcare and data-science problems, university-granted compute time, supporting AI startups, and education of future AI practitioners.


NVIDIA previously announced that it intends to create an AI centre of excellence in Cambridge, featuring a new arm-based supercomputer, which will serve as a hub of collaboration for AI researchers, scientists and startups.

Cambridge-1 will become a part of that centre, which will expand to include further supercomputers, and support more industries.


Dr Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president, R&D, GSK, said: “NVIDIA’s investment in computing, combined with the power of deep learning, will enable solutions to some of the life sciences industry’s greatest challenges and help us continue to deliver transformational medicines and vaccines to patients.”

James Weatherall, head of data science and AI at AstraZeneca, said: “The use of big data, supercomputing and AI have the potential to transform research and development; from target identification through clinical research and all the way to the launch of new medicines.”

Sebastien Ourselin, head, school of biomedical engineering and imaging sciences at King’s College London, said: “Through this partnership, for the first time, such a scale of computational power will be available to healthcare research — it will be truly transformational for patient health and treatment pathways.”

Dr Ian Abbs, CEO and chief medical officer of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust, said: “We need to ensure AI researchers have access to the largest and most comprehensive datasets that the NHS has to offer, our clinical expertise, and the required computational infrastructure to make sense of the data. This approach is not only necessary, but also the only ethical way to deliver AI in healthcare — more advanced AI means better care for our patients.”

Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, said: “Accelerating drug discovery has never been so important and it is investments like this that can make a real difference in our fight against countless diseases.”

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