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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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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

Sam Altman’s chip ambitions

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.
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Semiconductor chips are seen on a printed circuit board in this picture.

REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

Graphene: Could it reduce chip-making costs?

What if the stuff found in pencils could be used to make computer chips? That’s a real possibility, according to new research published in the journal Nature.

Research scientists from Georgia Institute of Technology and China’s Tianjin University found that graphene, the material commonly found in modern pencils, can act as a semiconductor. For years, it was believed that graphene only behaved as a semimetal, not a semiconductor, but researchers have now discovered graphene’s “band gap.”

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Courtesy of Midjourney

2023: The Year of AI

Art: Courtesy of Midjourney

The Trends

1. Chatbot mania: OpenAI brought AI to the masses with ChatGPT. Though it debuted in late 2022, it truly hit its stride this year, especially when it started charging $20 a month in February for access to its latest and greatest version, which was then upgraded with GPT-4 in March. Google also released Bard, Microsoft launched Bing Chat, and the startup Anthropic introduced us to Claude. Each chatbot has its strength: While ChatGPT is strong on creative writing and inductive reasoning, Bing is best used as a replacement for internet search engines, and Bard’s latest upgrade – to its new language model Gemini – strives for commonsense reasoning and logic. Anthropic's Claude rivals ChatGPT for complex tasks like organizing huge chunks of text. For now, ChatGPT is top dog, but the younger pups are nipping at its heels.

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The logo of OpenAI is seen displayed on a mobile phone screen with the Nvidia logo in the background.

Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images/Sipa/via Reuters

The rise of AI giants (and their challengers)

Two winners have emerged from the AI boom’s first year, but others are in hot pursuit.

Within a few days of ChatGPT’s launch on Nov. 30, 2022, the chatbot attracted millions of users, proving that the world was ready for consumer-grade AI. This made OpenAI, the parent company, a clear victor on the software front. On the hardware front, NVIDIA grabbed the spotlight. The company’s graphics-processing chips have become the industry standard for fueling powerful AI models, making NVIDIA a trillion-dollar company this year.

Wannabe contenders, however, are trying to catch up.

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