OpenAI’s Sam Altman seeking to raise up to $7 trillion from UAE, others for AI chip fabrication – TechStartups

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is reportedly planning to raise up to $7 trillion in new funding following a $5 billion investment in R&D to advance semiconductor technologies made in the USA, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The unprecedented investment is part of Altman’s ambitious move aimed at expanding the global supply of AI chips.

Sources familiar with the matter revealed to WSJ that Altman is currently in discussions with potential investors from the UAE and other nations to raise an investment ranging from $5 trillion to $7 trillion for AI chip manufacturing

The primary goal of this investment initiative is to tackle the scarcity of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), crucial components essential for training and operating large language models like those powering ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot, and Google Gemini.

Among the potential investors are sovereign wealth funds and government entities, whose involvement may spark geopolitical considerations. The US has previously shown caution regarding foreign control over microchip supplies, recently announcing a $5 billion investment in research and development to bolster US-made semiconductor technologies.

The staggering magnitude of the investment underscores the substantial capital needed to establish new semiconductor manufacturing capabilities. As outlined in The Wall Street Journal’s report, Altman is advocating for a partnership between OpenAI, various investors, chip makers, and power providers. Together, they would pool resources to construct chip foundries, managed by existing chip producers, with OpenAI committing to significant procurement from these new facilities.

To achieve these ambitious goals—surpassing the entire semiconductor industry’s current $527 billion global sales combined—Altman has reportedly engaged in discussions with potential investors worldwide. Notable figures include sovereign wealth funds and government bodies, particularly from the United Arab Emirates, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, and representatives from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).

TSMC, the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, plays a pivotal role in fabricating SoCs, CPUs, and GPUs for major tech firms like Nvidia, Apple, Intel, and AMD.

Altman’s vision extends beyond mere financial investment; it encompasses a significant expansion of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity, aimed at meeting the escalating demand for GPUs and other AI-specific chips. GPUs, renowned for their parallel computation capabilities, are vital for running AI models reliant on complex matrix operations. However, the tech sector currently grapples with a pronounced shortage of these critical components, hindering progress in AI development and applications.

The potential involvement of the UAE, spearheaded by key security official Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyan, underscores the global interest in AI’s transformative potential and the strategic importance of semiconductor manufacturing. Nevertheless, significant UAE investment in a critical tech industry raises geopolitical concerns, particularly regarding the US government’s strategic priorities in semiconductor production and AI development.

OpenAI, founded in 2015 by Sam Altman and Elon Musk as a non-profit research institution, aimed to pave the way for safe and beneficial artificial general intelligence (AGI). However, in 2020, it transitioned into a commercial entity, marking a significant shift in its trajectory. Despite internal disruptions in November, including Altman’s temporary departure and subsequent return, the company remains at the forefront of the burgeoning AI market, spurred by the successful launch of ChatGPT in 2022.

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