OpenAI CEO Sam Altman seeks trillions for outlandish AI chip project

February 9, 2024

Altman AI

OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, is reportedly in the process of coordinating an unfathomable funding effort, aiming to secure between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. 

This massive investment is intended to vastly expand the production capabilities of high-performance AI hardware, which the generative AI industry depends on – and can never get enough of. 

Demand for AI-specific chips is skyrocketing in an industry largely dominated by Nvidia, which holds about an 80% market share, boasting a market capitalization close to $1.72 trillion. 

Last year, many were flabbergasted it had even reached $1 trillion

With global chip sales expected to hit $595.3 billion in 2024, marking a 13.1% increase, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, Altman seeks a final solution for the supply-demand imbalance currently hindering AI progression, including that of OpenAI.

Altman has been actively engaging with potential investors and government officials, including those from the United Arab Emirates, and has held discussions with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, advocating for government backing. 

The US government has been keen to support domestic chip manufacturing, an area in which it outperforms China. 

The plan? A collaborative effort between OpenAI, various chip manufacturers, and energy companies to establish dedicated factories for producing these essential semiconductors en masse. OpenAI, of course, will be a key consumer. 

OpenAI has more purchasing power than ever, with revenues hitting $2 billion in December, and has acknowledged it needs more chips to progress its goals. 

Microsoft is reportedly briefed and supportive of Altman’s grand plan. Altman has shared project details with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella and Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott. The figures are lofty, eclipsing the combined market values of tech giants Apple and Microsoft. 

The $7 trillion figure, which doesn’t seem particularly grounded in reality, originally came from the Wall Street Journal, which wrote, “As part of the talks, Altman is pitching a partnership between OpenAI, various investors, chip makers, and power providers, which together would put up money to build chip foundries that would then be run by existing chip makers.”

Altman’s commitment to bolstering AI infrastructure, which encompasses fabrication capacity, energy, data centers, and more, reflects a wider acknowledgment of the critical need for a more robust global framework to sustain the swift pace of AI innovation. 

“Building massive-scale AI infrastructure, and a resilient supply chain, is crucial to economic competitiveness. OpenAI will try to help!” Altman shared on X, underscoring the strategic significance of this massive undertaking.

Altman’s visionary project signifies a major leap towards enhancing OpenAI’s capabilities and strengthening the global AI ecosystem at large. Even in largely symbolic terms, it’s a serious statement of intent. 

Competing tech firms and critics of Altman’s leadership will quake in their boots at the thought of him holding sway over a supply chain that colossal. 

But he’s young, he’s ambitious, and he’s at the helm of a company whose board couldn’t overthrow him.

Doubting him could prove a fatal error. 

As one commenter on X said, “Sama has upgraded from the game of raising billions. He’s created a new level where he alone operates.”

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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