Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is dedicating a further £100m of public funds to procure more semiconductors to help Britain in the global AI race.
Through ongoing negotiations with tech giants Nvidia, AMD, and Intel, the government is looking to ramp up their chip supply and establish a national “AI Research Resource”, after a recent report warned the UK is lacking in the semiconductor department.
Led by funding group UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the initiative is reportedly finalising an order of up to 5,000 Nvidia graphics processing units (GPUs) for advanced AI models like ChatGPT.
A Department for Science, Innovation and Technology spokesperson said: “The additional money being delivered through UKRI will complement the separate £100 million investment to establish the Foundation Model Taskforce.
“Announcements on the AI Research Resource will follow in due course.
“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 new cash support aims to address the UK’s lag in computing resources, after a recent government review said researchers need to access at least 3,000 more top of the range chips as soon as possible.
However, civil servants are urging Jeremy Hunt to up the funding by even more, so the government can meet its AI superpower ambitions, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.
GPUs are key for building AI systems and other countries are also looking to buy chips to power their own models.
Last week it emerged that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are buying thousands of Nvidia’s high-performing chips – with just a single one costing $40,000.
Nvidia, which sends its chip designs to be made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, has “the best chips in terms of performance/cost/reliability/usability and relative-availability,” said Damindu Jayaweera, technology analyst at investment bank Peel Hunt.
Nvidia, Intel and AMD did not immediately respond to a requests for comment.