Report: Sam Altman seeking trillions for AI chip fabrication from UAE, others

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman walks on the House side of the U.S. Capitol on January 11, 2024 in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, House Freedom Caucus members who left a meeting in the Speakers office say that they were talking to the Speaker about abandoning the spending agreement that Johnson announced earlier in the week. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Enlarge / OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman walks on the House side of the US Capitol on January 11, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images)

The Wall Street Journal reported that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is in talks with investors to raise as much as $5 trillion to $7 trillion for AI chip manufacturing, according to people familiar with the matter. The funding seeks to address the scarcity of graphics processing units (GPUs) crucial for training and running large language models like those that power ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot, and Google Gemini.

The high dollar amount reflects the huge amount of capital necessary to spin up new semiconductor manufacturing capability. “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,” writes the Wall Street Journal in its report. “OpenAI would agree to be a significant customer of the new factories.”

To hit these ambitious targets—which are larger than the entire semiconductor industry’s current $527 billion global sales combined—Altman has reportedly met with a range of potential investors worldwide, including sovereign wealth funds and government entities, notably the United Arab Emirates, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, and representatives from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).

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