OpenAI’s CEO happily considers a trip to Seoul in search of a new semiconductor partner in 2024.

ByYasmeeta Oon

Feb 6, 2024

SEOUL – In a strategic move to diversify its semiconductor sources and reduce its dependency on Nvidia, the US leader in artificial intelligence chips, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is reportedly setting the stage for a significant meeting with SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won during his visit to Korea this week.

Altman’s Ambitious Agenda

This trip marks Altman’s first return to Seoul in seven months, following an invitation from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups in June 2023. Altman’s previous visit demonstrated his keen interest in fostering collaborations with local chip manufacturers to advance AI accelerators, signaling a promising future for AI chip development within the country.

Exploring Partnerships with SK Group

During his stay, Altman is expected to engage with leading figures in the semiconductor industry to discuss potential AI chip collaborations. A key highlight of his visit is the anticipated meeting with SK Group’s Chey, aimed at securing a reliable memory supply chain, which is crucial for OpenAI’s operations and growth. This move could potentially solidify SK’s position as a pivotal player in OpenAI’s quest to challenge Nvidia’s dominance.

Subheading: Strengthening AI and Semiconductor Ties

  • SK hynix’s Rising Dominance: As SK Group’s chipmaking powerhouse, SK hynix has made significant strides in the high bandwidth memory (HBM) market. In 2022, it became the first to supply Nvidia with its fourth-generation HBM product, HBM3, and is gearing up to start mass production of HBM3E, an enhanced version, in the first half of this year.
  • Mutual Benefits of the AI Alliance: Should the discussions between SK and OpenAI lead to a strengthened AI alliance, both parties stand to gain substantially. SK would secure a major AI firm as a key customer, while OpenAI would ensure a stable supply of essential products to bolster its competitive edge against Nvidia.

However, an official statement from SK Group confirming the meeting between the two chiefs in Seoul remains pending.

Subheading: Broadening the Horizon with Samsung Electronics

Industry insiders also speculate on the potential for OpenAI to collaborate with Samsung Electronics. Such a partnership could span various sectors, including foundries, packaging, and HBM, essential for producing high-performance semiconductors capable of supporting advanced AI applications like ChatGPT.

  • Samsung’s Dual Capabilities: Recognized for its prowess in both foundry and memory semiconductor manufacturing, Samsung Electronics presents a valuable opportunity for OpenAI not only for technological collaborations but also as a potential investor.

Altman’s Global Vision for AI Chip Development

Sam Altman is not just focusing on partnerships in Korea; he is also spearheading a multibillion-dollar project aimed at developing the chips necessary for AI training and construction, as well as the plants to manufacture them. This ambitious project seeks to ensure a steady supply of chips, a critical component for the future of AI technology.

  • International Talks for Funding and Fabrication: Altman is currently in discussions with investors from the United Arab Emirates to finance this groundbreaking project. Additionally, talks with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) are underway about a possible partnership to fabricate these chips.
  • Engaging with Global Tech Giants: OpenAI’s CEO has also engaged with other major players in the tech industry, including Abu Dhabi-based G42 and Japan’s SoftBank, exploring various avenues for collaboration and support.

Table: OpenAI’s Semiconductor Strategy Overview

SK hynix CollaborationFirst to supply Nvidia with HBM3; planning mass production of HBM3E.
Potential SK AllianceAims to secure a stable memory supply and enhance AI capabilities.
Samsung Electronics PartnershipExplores technological cooperation and investment opportunities in foundry and memory semiconductor manufacturing.
Global ExpansionIn talks with UAE investors, TSMC, G42, and SoftBank for a new AI chip development project.

Key Takeaways:

  • OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, is actively seeking to diversify and strengthen the company’s semiconductor supply chain.
  • The potential collaborations with SK Group and Samsung Electronics highlight OpenAI’s strategic approach to enhancing its AI chip capabilities.
  • Altman’s global vision includes a significant investment in developing the chips necessary for AI advancements, indicating a proactive stance towards securing OpenAI’s future in the competitive AI landscape.

In conclusion, Sam Altman’s visit to Korea underscores a critical phase in OpenAI’s efforts to navigate the complexities of the global semiconductor market. By fostering strategic partnerships and pursuing ambitious projects, OpenAI aims not only to challenge existing giants like Nvidia but also to secure its position at the forefront of AI technology development.

Featured Image courtesy of DALL-E by ChatGPT

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.