Microsoft and OpenAI Plan $100 Billion Stargate AI Supercomputer

Microsoft and OpenAI Plan $100 Billion Stargate AI Supercomputer

According to a report by The Information, Microsoft and OpenAI are quietly planning a massive $100 billion data center project that would house an AI supercomputer codenamed "Stargate," to fuel OpenAI's ambitious pursuit of artificial general intelligence. This would represent a significant leap forward in computing capacity and AI development capabilities.

The proposed U.S.-based supercomputer would require an unprecedented amount of power (potentially consuming up to 5 gigawatts of power by 2030), with executives discussing the possibility of using alternative power sources such as nuclear energy. Microsoft is expected to finance the project, which would be 100 times more costly than some of today's biggest data centers.

However, Stargate's viability hinges on OpenAI's ability to deliver substantial improvements to its AI models. The company's next major language model upgrade, anticipated this year, will serve as a crucial benchmark for justifying the project's hefty price tag. Microsoft CFO Amy Hood's recent comments about "materially" increased spending on cloud and AI infrastructure hint at the company's readiness to back the ambitious venture. If the project moves forward, it would produce orders of magnitude more computing power than what Microsoft currently supplies to OpenAI.

Microsoft and OpenAI are currently in the middle of phase 3 of a five-phase plan for supercomputing development. The phase prior to Stargate, phase 4, would cost far less and involve a smaller supercomputer that Microsoft aims to launch around 2026. The companies have discussed launching Stargate as soon as 2028 and expanding it through 2030, potentially needing as much as 5 gigawatts of power by the end.

The total cost of the Stargate supercomputer could depend on software and hardware improvements that make data centers more efficient over time. To make Stargate a reality however, Microsoft would also have to overcome several technical challenges, such as preventing the chips from overheating due to the higher density of GPUs.

The partners are still ironing out key details, including where the supercomputer will be physically located and whether it will be built inside one data center or multiple data centers in close proximity.

As the AI arms race heats up, rivals like Google are also vying for computing supremacy. NVIDIA, the current leader in AI chips, stands to benefit from the surging demand. However, Altman's rumored plans for a new chip company could shake up the market, and offerings from Intel and AMD could further loosen NVIDIA's grip.

The Stargate project underscores the immense resources and long-term thinking required to push AI to new frontiers. While the road to artificial general intelligence remains uncertain, Microsoft and OpenAI's audacious vision underscores the transformative potential of AI and the lengths tech giants are willing to go to secure their place at the forefront of this revolution.

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