OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has traveled to South Korea to meet with Samsung Electronics and SK Group to discuss the formation of an AI semiconductor alliance and investment opportunities.
According to ETnews, Altman visited Samsung Semiconductor’s factory in Pyeongtaek and met with executives from both companies. OpenAI, and Altman in particular, are reportedly pursuing a plan to produce their own AI chips.
This has not been officially confirmed, but Altman has expressed concern lately about the existing and potentially growing shortage of chips for developing and deploying AI systems.
Samsung and SK are strong in HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) technology, which is critical for AI chips. According to ETnews, Altman’s visit focused on discussions about possible cooperation and investment in the production of AI chips. Altman is said to have expressed a willingness to purchase HBM from Samsung and SK.
During his visit, Altman also met with executives from AI startups in South Korea that have worked with or received investment from Samsung and SK, according to the report.
Samsung Electronics is also working with Google on generative AI. For example, Samsung’s new Galaxy smartphone offers exclusive Android AI capabilities.
OpenAI on the way to becoming an AI giant
According to the Financial Times and Bloomberg, Altman is in talks with potential major investors, including Abu Dhabi-based G42 and SoftBank Group Corp, to build a multi-billion dollar global network of AI chip factories. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is reportedly also involved in the talks.
The resulting chip entity could be an independent company with OpenAI as its primary customer, or it could be a subsidiary of OpenAI.
OpenAI partner Microsoft, which owns 49% of OpenAI, also unveiled its AI chips for the first time in November 2023. Microsoft is also working closely with Nvidia competitor AMD.
In addition to developing AI chips, Altman is said to be working with ex-Apple designer Jony Ive to develop AI hardware for consumers. This underscores Altman’s, and possibly OpenAI’s, ambitions to become a major force in the entire value chain of the AI market.
With ChatGPT, OpenAI is also targeting both end users and the developer market via an API, and so far has dominated the market with its models.