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Sam Altman’s chip ambitions

​Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attends the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 18, 2024.

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attends the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 18, 2024.

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
OpenAI chief Sam Altman is raising billions of dollars for a global network of semiconductor fabrication plants. He wants his firm to make high-powered computer chips itself.

The chipmaking process is notoriously difficult and expensive. AI developers like OpenAI depend on powerful chips from firms like NVIDIA and AMD. Fabrication often runs through Taiwan Semiconductor or the Korean-based Samsung, the two biggest companies by market share.

With this new venture, known by the code name Tigris, Altman wants to add another major player in the chipmaking process, which has been prone to bottlenecking in recent years. The global supply chain crisis coincided with a global chip shortage, leading to low supplies of appliances, computers, cars, and video game systems. Altman is in talks to raise funds from global players including Japan’s SoftBank and the UAE’s G42, promising to make its network of fabs global in scope.

For generative AI developers, they need the most powerful chips on the market — and they need as many as they can get.

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