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SOPA Images via Reuters

Apple wants its own chips

Apple is leveling up its chip ambitions. The Silicon Valley technology giant has spent years designing chips for its own hardware — for Macs, iPhones, iPads, and more. But, running AI models requires higher-grade chips like NVIDIA's graphics processors, which have become industry standard.

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A student of National University of Malaysia walks past displays of the country's "Stripes of Glory" flags at its campus in Bangi outside Kuala Lumpur August 22, 2007.

Bazuki Muhammad via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Microsoft takes Malaysia, Massive (and unknown) startup, Safety first, Don’t automate my news

2.2 billion: Microsoft has its eye on Southeast Asia. The computing giant announced it’ll pour $2.2 billion into Malaysia’s cloud infrastructure over the next four years and will establish a national AI center with the government. This investment is the latest in a string of Microsoft infusions in local economies to help develop AI: In the past month, the company announced a $2.9 billion investment in Japan, $1.7 billion in Indonesia, and a new data center in Thailand, plus a $1.5 billion stake in the UAE firm G42.

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US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announces a major grant at the Samsung semiconductor plant in Taylor, Texas, on Monday, April 15, 2024.

Jay Janner / American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters

Samsung hands Biden another chip win

The Biden administration is busy courting global semiconductor manufacturers to build stateside, recently handing billions to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to expand its chip fabrication plant in Phoenix, Arizona.

On Monday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced that the Biden administration is giving out another award as part of its CHIPS Act budget — this time to TSMC competitor Samsung, the South Korean electronics giant. Samsung will receive $6.4 billion to put toward its new manufacturing hub in Taylor, Texas, and expand its existing plant in Austin. In return, Samsung will pour $45 billion into its US projects and commit to producing cutting-edge two-nanometer chips.

Biden has made so-called silicon nationalism a tenet of his economic and national security-focused public policy, desperate to control the slow but crucial supply of chips used for everyday technologies as well as new artificial intelligence applications.

Google's Gemini home page displayed on a smartphone in a photo illustration.

Jonathan Raa/Sipa USA via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Pay for Google?, Indonesian investment, Amazon walks out on AI, Scraping YouTube

175 billion: Google said it made $175 billion in revenue from its search engine and related advertising last year, but is it ready to risk the golden goose? The company is reportedly considering charging for premium features on its search engine, including AI-assisted search (its traditional search engine would remain free). We’ve previously tested Perplexity, one of the companies trying to uproot Google’s search dominance with artificial intelligence, and you can read our review here.

200 million: The chipmaker Nvidia is teaming up with Indonesian telecom company Indosat to build a $200 million data center for artificial intelligence in the city of Surakarta, according to Indonesia’s communications minister. This news comes weeks after AI played a central role in the country’s presidential election, and it represents a major investment from one of the world’s richest tech companies in a key emerging market as Indonesia seeks to modernize its economy.

1,000: Amazon’s Just Walk Out in-store AI system for cashier-less grocery store checkout relied heavily on more than 1,000 contractors in India manually checking that the checkout transactions were accurate. Now, Amazon has announced it’s ditching the technology, which was being used in 60 Amazon-branded grocery stores and two Whole Foods stores.

1 million: One OpenAI team reportedly transcribed more than 1 million hours of YouTube videos to train its GPT-4 large language model. The company built a speech recognition tool called Whisper to handle the massive load, a move that may have violated YouTube's terms of use. YouTube parent company Google is a major rival to OpenAI in developing generative AI. Google hasn’t filed suit yet, but legal action could eventually come.
Courtesy of Midjourney

Sam Altman’s wish on a $7 trillion star

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, needs more chips. He needs a lot more chips. The only thing stopping his $100 billion startup — if you can still call it a startup — may be the current supply of powerful chips.

The semiconductor fabrication process is notoriously slow and expensive, and the global supply chain runs through a few big, highly specialized firms. There are only a small number of companies that actually design chips made for generative AI — AMD, Intel, and Nvidia. And they’re pricy: Nvidia, which is set to take 85% of the market next year by one estimate, sells its H100 chips for about $40,000 a pop.

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The Google AI logo is being displayed on a smartphone with Gemini in the background.

Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Bye-bye Bard, Arm’s up, Robots took my job, Super Bowl ad blitz

20: Google is switching things up. Its AI chatbot, Bard, is being replaced by Gemini. Like ChatGPT, there’s a $20-a-month premium version of the service, called Gemini Advanced. Google said the chatbot is a “new experience far more capable at reasoning, following instructions, coding, and creative collaboration” than anything on the market.
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--FILE--A chip of Huawei is seen in Ji'nan city, east China's Shandong province, 20 April 2018.

Oriental Image via Reuters Connect

China’s powered-up chips

Two Chinese firms are readying production of new 5-nanometer semiconductors, according to The Financial Times, putting China one step closer to technological parity with the US. SMIC will mass-produce the high-powered chips, designed by Huawei, in Shanghai, which can be used to power next-generation smartphones.

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Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer in this illustration picture taken February 25, 2022.

REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

The great chip divide

The chip industry is surging on the back of insatiable demand for artificial intelligence. While AMD and NVIDIA have doubled and tripled their stock prices respectively in a single year, there’s reason to believe that AI’s rising tide isn’t lifting all ships.

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