Scotland is to be the home of the UK’s first exascale-class supercomputer.

The UK government this week announced the University of Edinburgh had been selected to host the country's first exascale supercomputer.

uni of edinburdg advanced computing facility scotland uk
– EPCC | University of Edinburgh

The city has been named as the preferred choice to host the new national exascale facility within a new £31 million ($38m) wing of EPCC’s purpose-built Advanced Computing Facility. Installation of the first phase is due to begin in 2025.

Professor Sir Peter Mathieson, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are thrilled to be chosen to host this significant leap forward in the UK’s supercomputing capabilities. Bringing the exascale computer to Edinburgh is a testament to our expertise in managing such world-class facilities, and the depth of global talent in computer science and AI within the University.”

The new system will be 50 times more powerful than the UK’s current top-end system, ARCHER2, which is also housed in Edinburgh.

A vendor for the system wasn’t disclosed - though many UK government-funded systems, including the upcoming Isambard 3 and Met Office supercomputers, are all HPE Cray-based machines.

Plans for a £900 million investment program to upgrade the UK’s next-generation compute capacity were announced earlier this year.

As part of the investment, last month the government announced a new supercomputer known as Isambard-AI would be deployed at the National Composites Centre in Bristol. Specifications weren’t shared, but the system will reportedly feature “thousands” of GPUs.

ARCHER2 launched in 2021. It is a 23-cabinet HPE Cray EX supercomputing system with an estimated peak performance of 28 petaflops. The machine has 5,860 compute nodes, each with dual AMD Epyc Zen2 (Rome) 64-core CPUs. It is housed at EPCC, the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Computing Facility.

“I’m immensely proud that Edinburgh through EPCC has been chosen to host the UK’s first Exascale system. These supercomputers are immensely complex systems, and we’ll use everything we’ve learned over the past 30 years to run the best possible service for our thousands of users from across the UK’s scientific and industrial research communities,” said Professor Mark Parsons, EPCC Director.

Europe’s first exascale supercomputer is to be located in Forschungszentrum Jülich facilities in Germany. EuroHPC selected the research institution's Gauss Center for Supercomputing in Jülich to host the future machine, to be named Jupiter, in June 2022. The second, also part of the EuroHPC effort, is set to be located at the TGCC computing center in France and managed by GENCI, the French national agency for High-Performance Computing.

The US has one Exascale system – Frontier – in operation. Two more – Aurora and El Capitan – are due to come online in the coming months. China reportedly has at least two exascale systems in operation – but hasn’t submitted them to the Top500 rankings list – with more in development.