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Hunt promises nearly £1bn for supercomputer to help AI researchers

Britain's most powerful computer ranks 28th in the world, the Treasury said (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
August Graham, PA Business Reporter

The Government plans to invest close to £1 billion to create a new supercomputer in a bid to help UK developers compete on the global market.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that he has set aside the money to build an exascale supercomputer and establish a new AI Research Resource, with the first funds being available this year.

“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,” he told MPs on Wednesday.

“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.”

Mr Hunt also announced a new annual £1 million price for the person or the team in the UK that does the most to further AI research.

“The world's first stored-programme computer was built at the University of Manchester in 1948, and was known as the ‘Manchester baby',” Mr Hunt said.

“75 years on, the baby has grown up, so I will call this new national AI award ‘the Manchester Prize' in its honour.”

The Government said that at present the UK's most powerful computer ranks just 28th in the world.

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