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News » OpenAI seeks trillions to expand chipmaking for AI

OpenAI seeks trillions to expand chipmaking for AI

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman during an interview with TIME Editor-in-Chief Sam Jacobs as part of “A Year in TIME” event in New York City in December 2023. Photo from TIME / Youtube

CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES — OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is pursuing up to $7 trillion in funding for an unprecedented initiative to dramatically expand global semiconductor manufacturing capacity and advance artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

The context is an acute shortage of graphics processing units (GPUs) that hinders AI development. The Wall Street Journal reported that the project could require $5-7 trillion in capital, exceeding the $527 billion global semiconductor market size in 2023 and the $1 trillion projected by 2030.

The project involves collaborations with chip makers and power providers to establish new chip foundries, which existing semiconductor companies would manage. OpenAI would be a primary customer for these new facilities. 

Altman has held discussions with potential backers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), and key figures like Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyan of the UAE and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.

“OpenAI has had productive discussions about increasing global infrastructure and supply chains for chips, energy and data centers—which are crucial for AI and other industries that rely on them,” said an OpenAI spokeswoman. 

“We will continue to keep the U.S. government informed given the importance to national priorities, and look forward to sharing more details at a later date.”

Altman tweeted last week “The world needs more AI infrastructure…Building massive-scale AI infrastructure and a resilient supply chain is crucial to economic competitiveness. OpenAI will try to help!”

In 2023, OpenAI already expressed interest in manufacturing its own chips to reduce reliance on vendors like Nvidia.

Recent struggles at AI chip startups also highlight the risks and uncertainties in the market. With Microsoft among its backers, OpenAI would need strong investor appetite for the capital-intensive move into chipmaking.

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