Amid a global chip shortage, artificial intelligence heavyweight, OpenAI, is reportedly considering bringing chip production in-house. As reported by Reuters on Oct. 5, OpenAI — the team behind the breakthrough AI chatbot ChatGPT— may soon be adding chip manufacturing to its portfolio.
The move isn’t off the cuff. As the demand for AI chips surges and a global chip shortage continues, this proposal appears to be a strategic and logical step. According to the same report, OpenAI considered an acquisition of a chip-making firm to realize its ambitions. Yet, it’s not the only path being considered; other options include closely working with NVIDIA, its current primary chip supplier, or diversifying its pool of chip providers.
In deciding which path to take, OpenAI, like many tech industry titans, has reached a fork in the road. On the one hand, taking chip production in-house allows for greater control over the process and therefore, its schedule. The global chip shortage has proven a significant stumbling block for OpenAI, delaying many short-term plans due to an ‘extreme GPU-limitation’, as reported by Raza Habib, CEO of AI firm, Humanloop.
On the contrary, chip manufacturing is complex and costly. Deciding against in-house production and continuing to work with chip suppliers or extend their supplier base would alleviate this stress, keeping OpenAI focused on its core competency: artificial intelligence.
Should OpenAI decide to produce its own chips, it will join tech industry heavyweights such as Google and Amazon that have moved chip production in-house. Streamlining their processes in this manner may usher in a new era of technological advancement, yet one can’t deny the potential risks tethered to such a substantial pivot at a time of scarcity.
Moreover, since the launch of ChatGPT last November, the demand for specialized AI chips has skyrocketed causing NVIDIA’s share price to surge as companies that aim to build AI applications engage in a frenzy to purchase the computing hardware.
While the strategy OpenAI will adopt is not yet decided, this crossroad mirrors a significant challenge facing the broader tech industry today. How it navigates its path could set a precedent for other AI companies presently caught in this global chip drought.