Hartree Centre's new New Lenovo supercomputer will be ten-times faster than its predecessor

Hartree Centre, home of the new Lenovo supercomputer, pictured during daytime with clear skies above.
(Image credit: STFC/Hartree Centre)

A new Lenovo supercomputer designed to support AI research is set to be housed at the Hartree Centre following a grant by the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Ten-times more powerful than its predecessor but using less electricity thanks to direct water cooling, the new supercomputer is part of the £210 million Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI) program.

This provides UK industry access to digital technologies and expertise and runs alongside investments from the wider AI Research Resource (AIRR).

"We are very excited to be working with Lenovo on our next generation of supercomputers at the Hartree Centre. Our mission is to equip UK industry with the knowledge, skills and compute needed to fully unlock the potential of advanced digital technologies," said Kate Royse, director of the STFC Hartree Centre.

"With our new supercomputer, we will be able to support UK industry in the use of big data and AI technologies to enable UK businesses to take a leading role internationally on the responsible adoption and exploitation of AI technology."

The GPU-based 44.7 petaflop Lenovo ThinkSystem Neptune will perform more than 44 quadrillion floating point operations per second.

It has ten-times the processing power of the Hartree Centre’s current system, Scafell Pike, and will be more power-efficient, taking up less space and using less electricity per unit of performance.

It uses innovative warm water cooling which Lenovo said can reduce energy demands by up to 40% while boosting performance by up to 10%.

The HNCDI said it expects the new supercomputer to be used for industrial research such as weather and climate modeling, cleaner energy initiatives, drug discovery, health technologies, new materials, automotive advancements, and legal applications.


Already, the UK Atomic Energy Authority is using the Centre to research new reactors for clean nuclear fusion energy.

"From advanced modeling and simulation in various scientific disciplines to pioneering work in AI and machine learning, this new power-efficient supercomputer will be a cornerstone for innovation, pushing the boundaries of big data and AI technologies to bolster the UK industry’s global leadership in responsible and ethical technology adoption," said Noam Rosen, EMEA Director HPC/AI, Lenovo.

The new supercomputer will be installed later this year at HNCDI's new £30 million supercomputing center, currently under construction.

Lenovo supercomputer the latest in UK investment boom

The launch of the Lenovo supercomputer comes amid a period of intense investment across the UK. Last year, the government announced plans for two new supercomputers to be built at the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol

Underpinned by significant funding, the supercomputers will be used to analyze advanced AI models and drive breakthroughs in drug discovery and clean energy.

The Bristol supercomputer, Isambard-AI, will be capable of 200 petaflops of performance under the Top500’s Linpack benchmark – around ten times that of the current fastest UK supercomputer, ARCHER2.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.