OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Aims to Raise Billions for Global Semiconductor Manufacturing Venture

Sam Altman, Chief Executive Officer of OpenAI, is reportedly in talks with major global investors to secure billions of dollars for a new chip venture. The funds will be utilized to establish a network of semiconductor manufacturing plants, commonly known as fabs. This ambitious project is aimed at addressing concerns about a potential shortage of chips as artificial intelligence (AI) applications become more pervasive.

Altman has engaged in discussions with potential investors, including G42 based in Abu Dhabi and SoftBank Group Corp., with plans to collaborate with leading chip manufacturers for a global network of fabs. While earlier reports hinted at Altman’s efforts to raise funds for a chip venture, the current scope of the project, focused on manufacturing, was not previously disclosed.

The fundraising initiative reflects Altman’s concern that the demand for AI-related chips may outstrip the forecasted production, especially with the growing popularity of AI applications. The project aims to ensure an adequate supply of chips by the end of the decade.

Building semiconductor fabs is a capital-intensive endeavor, with construction costs for a single state-of-the-art plant reaching tens of billions of dollars. Altman’s approach differs from some of OpenAI’s peers, like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, who typically design custom silicon and outsource manufacturing to external companies.

Discussions with potential investors, such as G42, have focused on raising substantial amounts, with figures ranging from $8 billion to $10 billion, although the current status of these talks remains unclear.

Altman has emphasized the need for the industry to act promptly to meet the anticipated demand for chips, given the rapid rise in interest in AI applications. Partnerships with major players in the chip fabrication market, including Intel Corp., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., and Samsung Electronics Co., are being explored.

OpenAI, G42, Intel, Microsoft, SoftBank, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. declined to comment on the matter. Meanwhile, Samsung officials were not immediately available for comment.

It’s worth noting that G42, known for its focus on artificial intelligence, has recently faced calls for increased scrutiny and trade restrictions due to its relationships with blacklisted Chinese companies, including Huawei Technologies Co. and Beijing Genomics Institute. This has raised concerns about potential risks to research at U.S. universities, prompting discussions on potential sanctions by U.S. lawmakers.

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