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14 September, 2020 - 11:51 By Tony Quested

NVIDIA and Arm creating Cambridge AI superhub after $40bn deal

US technology power player NVIDIA and Cambridge superchip architect Arm are to create the world’s greatest AI research superhub in the UK’s leading technology cluster.

The move was announced after NVIDIA revealed that it had agreed to acquire Arm from Japanese business SoftBank for $40 billion.

Announced just hours after the acquisition was agreed, it is not yet clear whether the AI centre will create new jobs or be staffed from existing employees from both companies already based in the UK. 

But it WILL be based at Arm’s existing Cambridge HQ building, which has been significantly extended in the last couple of years.

The Artificial Intelligence nervecentre will embrace a startup accelerator, international research collaborations, training and Fellowships.

It will host an Arm-based supercomputer; the facility will serve as a broad-based hub for collaboration by AI researchers, scientists and startups across the UK and internationally.

NVIDIA says: “Artificial intelligence is the most powerful technology force of our time. It is the automation of automation, where software writes software. 

“While AI began in the data centre, it is moving quickly to the edge – to stores, warehouses, hospitals, streets, and airports, where smart sensors connected to AI computers can speed checkouts, direct forklifts, orchestrate traffic, and save power. 

“In time, there will be trillions of these small autonomous computers powered by AI, connected by massively powerful cloud data centres in every corner of the world.

“But in many ways, the field is just getting started. That’s why we are excited to be creating a world-class AI laboratory in Cambridge, at the Arm headquarters: a Hadron collider or Hubble telescope, if you like, for artificial intelligence.”  

NVIDIA says that together with Arm, it is uniquely positioned to launch this effort. “NVIDIA is the leader in AI computing, while Arm is present across a vast ecosystem of edge devices, with more than 180 billion units shipped. With this newly announced combination, we are creating the leading computing company for the age of AI. 

“Arm is an incredible company and it employs some of the greatest engineering minds in the world. But we believe we can make Arm even more incredible and take it to even higher levels. We want to propel it – and the UK – to global AI leadership.

“We will create an open centre of excellence in the area once home to giants like Isaac Newton and Alan Turing, for whom key NVIDIA technologies are named. 

“Here, leading scientists, engineers and researchers from the UK and around the world will come develop their ideas, collaborate and conduct their ground-breaking work in areas like healthcare, life sciences, self-driving cars and other fields. We want the UK to attract the best minds and talent from around the world.”

The Cambridge AI centre will include:-

  • An Arm/NVIDIA-based supercomputer: Expected to be one of the most powerful AI supercomputers in the world, this system will combine state-of-the art Arm CPUs, NVIDIA’s most advanced GPU technology, and NVIDIA Mellanox DPUs, along with high-performance computing and AI software from NVIDIA and its many partners. For reference – as Business Weekly recently reported – the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku in Japan, is Arm-based and NVIDIA’s own supercomputer Selene is the seventh most powerful system in the world.
  • Research Fellowships and Partnerships: In this centre, NVIDIA will expand research partnerships within the UK with academia and industry to conduct research covering leading-edge work in healthcare, autonomous vehicles, robotics, data science and more. NVIDIA already has successful research partnerships with King’s College and Oxford. 
  • AI Training: NVIDIA’s education wing, the Deep Learning Institute, has trained more than 250,000 students on both fundamental and applied AI. 
  • NVIDIA will create an institute in Cambridge, and make its curriculum available throughout the UK. This will provide both young people and mid-career workers with new AI skills, creating job opportunities and preparing the next generation of UK developers for AI leadership. 
  • Startup Accelerator: Much of the leading-edge work in AI is done by startups. NVIDIA Inception, a startup accelerator program, has more than 6,000 members with more than 400 based in the UK. NVIDIA will further its investment in this area by providing UK startups with access to the Arm supercomputer, connections to researchers from NVIDIA and partners, technical training and marketing promotion to help them grow. 
  • Industry Collaboration: The NVIDIA AI research facility will be an open hub for industry collaboration, providing a uniquely powerful centre of excellence in Britain. NVIDIA’s industry partnerships include GSK, Oxford Nanopore and other leaders in their fields. From helping to fight COVID-19 to finding new energy sources, NVIDIA is already working with industry across the UK today but says it can and will do more. 

“We are ambitious. We can’t wait to build on the foundations created by the talented minds of NVIDIA and Arm to make Cambridge the next great AI centre for the world,” a spokesman said.

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