Report: Sam Altman searching for trillions for AI chip fabrication from UAE, others

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman walks on the House side of the U.S. Capitol on January 11, 2024 in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, House Freedom Caucus members who left a meeting in the Speakers office say that they were talking to the Speaker about abandoning the spending agreement that Johnson announced earlier in the week. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Enlarge / OpenAI Chief Government Officer Sam Altman walks on the Home facet of the US Capitol on January 11, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Photograph by Kent Nishimura/Getty Photographs)

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On Thursday, The Wall Road Journal reported that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is in talks with traders to boost as a lot as $5 trillion to $7 trillion for AI chip manufacturing, in response to folks conversant in the matter. The funding seeks to handle the shortage of graphics processing models (GPUs) essential for coaching and operating giant language fashions like those who energy ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot, and Google Gemini.

The excessive greenback quantity displays the massive quantity of capital essential to spin up new semiconductor manufacturing functionality. “As a part of the talks, Altman is pitching a partnership between OpenAI, numerous traders, chip makers and energy suppliers, which collectively would put up cash to construct chip foundries that may then be run by current chip makers,” writes the Wall Road Journal in its report. “OpenAI would comply with be a big buyer of the brand new factories.”

To hit these bold targets—that are bigger than your complete semiconductor trade’s present $527 billion world gross sales mixed—Altman has reportedly met with a spread of potential traders worldwide, together with sovereign wealth funds and authorities entities, notably the United Arab Emirates, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, and representatives from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).

TSMC is the world’s largest devoted unbiased semiconductor foundry. It is a important linchpin that corporations comparable to Nvidia, Apple, Intel, and AMD depend on to manufacture SoCs, CPUs, and GPUs for numerous functions.

Altman reportedly seeks to develop the worldwide capability for semiconductor manufacturing considerably, funding the infrastructure essential to assist the rising demand for GPUs and different AI-specific chips. GPUs are wonderful at parallel computation, which makes them superb for operating AI fashions that closely depend on matrix multiplication to work. Nevertheless, the know-how sector presently faces a vital scarcity of those essential parts, constraining the potential for AI developments and functions.

Particularly, the UAE’s involvement, led by Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyan, a key safety official and chair of quite a few Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth autos, displays world curiosity in AI’s potential and the strategic significance of semiconductor manufacturing. Nevertheless, the prospect of considerable UAE funding in a key tech trade raises potential geopolitical issues, notably concerning the US authorities’s strategic priorities in semiconductor manufacturing and AI improvement.

The US has been cautious about permitting overseas management over the availability of microchips, given their significance to the digital financial system and nationwide safety. Reflecting this, the Biden administration has undertaken efforts to bolster home chip manufacturing by way of subsidies and regulatory scrutiny of overseas investments in essential applied sciences.

To place the $5 trillion to $7 trillion estimate in perspective, the White Home simply right now introduced a $5 billion funding in R&D to advance US-made semiconductor applied sciences. TSMC has already sunk $40 billion—one of many largest overseas investments in US historical past—right into a US chip plant in Arizona. As of now, it is unclear whether or not Altman has secured any commitments towards his fundraising aim.

Up to date on February 9, 2024 at 8:45 PM Japanese with a quote from the WSJ that clarifies the proposed relationship between OpenAI and companions within the talks.

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