It has long been said that OpenAI wants to develop its own artificial intelligence chips. An initiative that would allow it to cut dependence on third parties, such as NVIDIA, and evolve the training of more powerful language models at a faster rate. Sam Altman, the leader of the artificial intelligence startup, has come up with an extremely ambitious plan to achieve this. But his most important limitation is money.
As reported The Wall Street Journal, Altman has presented his bold strategy to multiple players in the technology industry, as well as politicians and investment funds. Basically, OpenAI seeks to raise financing to expand the capacity for development, manufacturing, distribution and use of AI chips in the short term. A pharaonic effort and would require trillions (yes, trillions) of dollars.
According to one of the sources of the aforementioned media, Sam Altman’s project would cost between 5 and 7 billion dollars. A beastly sum that exceeds any metric that is attempted to be used as a comparison. He WSJ mentions that during 2023 the global sale of chips generated 527,000 million dollars; So what OpenAI proposes is to achieve, at least, a figure almost 10 times larger to carry out this idea.
Obtaining such a large amount of money is not something that can be achieved by going to a single—and hypothetical—partner. That is why Altman would have already been testing the waters against several heavyweights. Among them, the sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyanthe national security advisor of the United Arab Emirates and president of both the Emirati sovereign wealth fund and the artificial intelligence company G42.
The CEO of OpenAI also met with representatives of TSMC and Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Softbank, to present the initiative to them. In the case of the Japanese businessman, there is already a previous connection with Altman thanks to the project to develop a new artificial intelligence device with Jony Ive.
OpenAI’s unprecedented plan to scale the chip industry
An interesting point to consider is that Sam Altman and OpenAI are not approaching this project in secret. The businessman already expressed his plan to Microsoftthe main investor in the artificial intelligence startup, already Gina Raimondothe United States Secretary of Commerce.
Now, raising 5 or 7 billion dollars is not something that happens overnight. However, the San Francisco-based firm is exploring several possibilities. One of the strongest would be to propose to investors a partnership with OpenAI to build new foundries dedicated to chip production. Once established, control would be granted to companies that are already dedicated to the manufacture of these components. Altman’s firm, meanwhile, would become the most important client of these facilities.
Of course, there are still many topics to be defined within this great OpenAI plan. Scaling the chip industry to the level that Sam Altman and company intend is not easy. Companies like Intel or TSMC have faced several problems and setbacks trying to establish new factories under their own expansion strategies. Added to this is the need to increase the development of machines to manufacture chips, as well as address the enormous energy consumption of the initiative.
The proposal also strikes very sensitive political chords.. In accordance with The Wall Street Journal, OpenAI’s priority would be for the plan to come to fruition in the United States. This would allow them to access succulent subsidies from the White House. Although the North American government would also view the hypothetical interference of the United Arab Emirates in this story with some suspicion.
Will Sam Altman get the billions needed to carry out the plan? Will investors be encouraged to take on debt to finance the project? For now, we will have to wait to see if the initiative advances, or if it remains just an idea. extremely ambitious.