UKRI position on next phase of large scale compute investments

UKRI is developing a Digital Research Infrastructure (DRI) strategy that recognises that UKRI’s diverse research communities require large-scale compute provision across a range of system sizes and architectures.

In addition to recognising the increasing ubiquity of large-scale computing in research and innovation and growing the UKRI user base, our strategy also acknowledges the increasing pace of technological development. Along with other leading research nations, we recognise the substantial opportunities that will arise from exascale systems, and our ambition is to provide an exascale capability for the UK by the middle of this decade.

We also recognise that we are currently entering a period of rapid change, with increasingly heterogeneous system designs, the emergence of novel architectures, and the blurring of the traditional distinction between CPU and GPU-based systems, enabling convergence of currently disparate workflows.

Our overarching priority is to provide appropriate and ambitious compute capabilities reaching out to exascale for UKRI’s diverse research and innovation communities.  UKRI continues to pursue promising opportunities, both individually and in partnership with others both nationally and internationally.

To ensure that UKRI is prepared for future fiscal event and opportunities beyond the current spending review period, we reaffirm this position and are taking the following approach:

UKRI will lead the preparation of two (strategic/outline) business cases:

  • one focused on an exascale system targeting deployment by 2025;
  • one focused on investment in large-scale accelerator-based compute capability for the UK over the next few years.

The work of these cases, which will include the exploration of options and costs associated with deployment, will be closely aligned with the UKRI DRI Committee (DRIC) and the designated leads will coordinate government engagement activities with the Co-Directors for DRI. Both cases will be developed within a DRIC agreed governance structure that enables senior oversight of the case development and input from relevant internal stakeholders and, where appropriate, external stakeholders.

No decision has been taken at this stage. The selected project(s) will only proceed once funding has been identified, following endorsement by the UKRI Executive Committee and the necessary governmental approvals.

Last updated: 23 May 2022

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