Sunak Is Gearing Up to Spend £800 Million on UK Supercomputer

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is weighing proposals to plow £800 million ($946 million) into a new supercomputer as the government seeks to make the UK a global leader in science and technology.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s flagship Department for Science, Innovation and Technology — set up in February to reflect his political priorities — has submitted plans to Downing Street for the project, people familiar with the matter said. The supercomputer would provide a financial boost to the domestic tech industry, with UK firms providing computer systems and chips, they said.   
Supercomputers are able to complete trillions of calculations per second. Governments around the world are increasingly investing in them to tackle problems that are beyond the reach of ordinary machines, including to model climate change, provide more accurate weather forecasts and investigate diseases and patterns in medical data.
The proposal is designed to be a focal point in Sunak’s stated ambition for Britain to “cement our place as a global science and technology superpower by 2030,” a goal the prime minister emphasized when publishing a science and technology framework on Monday. 
However, in a sign that Sunak’s ambitions may collide with reality on how much UK government money is available to spend on such projects, the Treasury has yet to sign off on funding even though Hunt is set to unveil the UK’s annual budget next week, people familiar said.
Treasury Talks
DSIT officials had hoped that the new supercomputer could be announced in time for next week’s set-piece, but discussions between the department and the Treasury are ongoing, the people said. 
It’s unlikely the negotiations will be resolved in time for the budget, one official said. Another said DSIT had asked for new money for the project, but the Treasury wanted it to find the cash from its existing budget. A third person said the project is still in play and that they hope the Treasury would agree to provide the funding in the coming weeks.  DSIT didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
There have been significant advances in supercomputing in recent years. 
The Frontier supercomputer, funded by the US Department of Energy, became the world’s fastest computer when it began operations in 2022. It is able to carry out more than 1 quintillion calculations in one second, equivalent to each person on Earth completing 60 calculations per minute, with no breaks, over a span of four years.

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