OpenAI Explores Custom AI Chips to Address Shortage
OpenAI, the organization behind ChatGPT, is actively exploring options to address the ongoing AI chip shortage and meet the growing demand for artificial intelligence (AI) chips.
CEO Sam Altman is prioritizing the acquisition of additional AI chips, which has led OpenAI to consider developing its custom AI chips or acquiring a chip company.
OpenAI is in the early stages of investigating the development of custom AI chips as a potential solution to the chip scarcity issue. While a final decision has not been made, discussions are ongoing to address the urgent need for more AI chips. The shortage of graphics processing units (GPUs), especially those from Nvidia, poses significant challenges as Nvidia controls a substantial portion of the GPU market necessary for AI applications.
Running ChatGPT comes with significant financial demands, with estimates suggesting a substantial investment in GPUs and chips annually if query volumes reach a certain level.
OpenAI is actively working on developing its custom AI chips, a move that would align it with tech giants like Google and Amazon. However, this endeavor entails substantial costs and no guaranteed success.
In addition to developing custom chips, OpenAI is exploring the possibility of acquiring a chip company, similar to Amazon’s acquisition of Annapurna Labs in 2015. Details about the potential acquisition target remain undisclosed.
Regardless of whether OpenAI decides to build custom AI chips or pursue an acquisition, the effort will take several years. During this transition, OpenAI will continue to rely on commercial providers like Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices to fulfill its AI chip requirements.
The surge in demand for specialized AI chips since ChatGPT’s launch underscores the importance of addressing chip shortages in the AI industry. Microsoft, a primary supporter of OpenAI, is also working on its custom AI chip, potentially indicating increased independence between the two companies.
Developing custom processors is an attractive prospect but comes with substantial challenges. For instance, Meta has faced difficulties with its custom chips and is now working on a newer chip designed for various AI tasks.