The UK government is investing £100 million in an effort to strengthen its foothold in the global AI chip market. This initiative is geared towards creating a robust AI infrastructure in the UK, akin to developments in the US and other nations. The allocated funds will be channeled towards purchasing essential components from top chip manufacturers, including Nvidia, AMD, and Intel.
According to The Guardian, the UK’s £100 million allocation may fall short when juxtaposed with the financial commitments of the EU, US, and China. Sources indicate that the government is on the verge of ordering 5,000 GPUs from Nvidia, a firm that has witnessed a surge in its valuation amidst the growing AI competition. These GPUs, commonly referred to as graphics cards, are integral to the chip’s processing power, crucial for executing advanced AI operations.
Yet, apprehensions are mounting in the tech sector and within Whitehall. There’s a growing sentiment that the UK might be lagging behind. Presently, the UK’s share in global semiconductor sales stands at just 0.5%. In a related development this past May, the government, under Rishi Sunak, announced a ten-year plan to channel £1bn into semiconductor R&D. However, this sum seems modest when contrasted with the US’s $52bn Chips Act and the EU’s hefty €43bn in subsidies.
Amidst these developments, geopolitical tensions surrounding AI chip technology are intensifying. The White House recently prohibited US investments in advanced Chinese microconductors, a move that followed China’s declaration that chips from US manufacturer Micron posed a security risk.
To address these challenges and establish shared standards for technology, the UK is planning an AI summit this autumn. UK Research and Innovation, along with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, is spearheading the effort to finalize orders with major chip manufacturers.
A government spokesperson stated, “We are committed to supporting a thriving environment for compute in the UK which maintains our position as a global leader across science, innovation and technology. The additional money being delivered through UKRI will complement the separate £100m investment to establish the Foundation Model Taskforce.”
In related news, on 24 April 2023, the Prime Minister and the Technology Secretary announced an initial funding of £100 million for a taskforce. This taskforce is tasked with enhancing the UK’s expertise in a rapidly evolving AI domain. This allocation is on top of a £900 million investment in computing technology. The primary goal of the taskforce is to bolster the UK’s global standing in this pivotal technology, emphasizing the secure and dependable application of AI across different industries.
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