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

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Enlarge / OpenAI Chief Govt Officer Sam Altman walks on the Home facet of the US Capitol on January 11, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Picture by Kent Nishimura/Getty Photos)

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On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is in talks with buyers to boost as a lot as $5 trillion to $7 trillion for AI chip manufacturing, based on individuals accustomed to the matter. The funding seeks to deal with the shortage of graphics processing models (GPUs) essential for coaching and working massive language fashions like people 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.

To hit these bold targets—that are bigger than the complete semiconductor business’s present $527 billion international gross sales mixed—Altman has reportedly met with a spread of potential buyers 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 impartial semiconductor foundry. It is a essential linchpin that corporations corresponding to Nvidia, Apple, Intel, and AMD depend on to manufacture SoCs, CPUs, and GPUs for varied functions.

Altman reportedly seeks to broaden 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 glorious at parallel computation, which makes them excellent for working AI fashions that closely depend on matrix multiplication to work. Nevertheless, the know-how sector at the moment faces a significant shortage of those essential parts, constraining the potential for AI developments and functions.

Specifically, 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 automobiles, displays international curiosity in AI’s potential and the strategic significance of semiconductor manufacturing. Nevertheless, the prospect of considerable UAE funding in a essential tech business raises potential geopolitical issues, significantly concerning the US authorities’s strategic priorities in semiconductor manufacturing and AI improvement.

The US has been cautious about permitting international management over the provision 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 means of subsidies and regulatory scrutiny of international investments in essential applied sciences.

To place the $5 trillion to $7 trillion estimate in perspective, the White Home simply immediately announced a $5 billion investment in R&D to advance US-made semiconductor applied sciences. TSMC has already sunk $40 billion—one of many largest international 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 purpose.



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