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Tuesday, May 30, 2023



Microsoft Teams Up With AMD To Dethrone Nvidia From AI Chip Throne

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

One of the best performing stocks of 2023, Nvidia, swooned moments after Bloomberg reported that Microsoft is working with AMD on the chipmaker’s expansion into artificial intelligence processors, part of a multi-faceted strategy to secure more of the highly coveted components and prevent Nvidia from becoming the sole supplier of chips to the industry.

The companies are teaming up to offer an alternative to Nvidia which dominates the market for AI-capable chips called graphics processing units. And since MSFT does not (yet) engage in fabrication, the software giant will provide financial support to bolster AMD’s efforts, and is also working with the chipmaker on a homegrown Microsoft processor for AI workloads, code-named Athena.

AMD shares jumped more than 6.5% on Thursday, and Microsoft gained about 1%. Representatives from both companies declined to comment. Nvidia stock declined as much as 1.9% before erasing much of the losses

The alliance is part of a broader push to augment AI processing power, which is in great demand after the explosion of chatbots like ChatGPT and other services based on the technology. Microsoft is both a top provider of cloud-computing services and a driving force of AI use. The company has pumped $10 billion into ChatGPT maker OpenAI, and has vowed to add such features to its entire software lineup.

According to Bloomberg, the move also reflects Microsoft’s deepening involvement in the chip industry. The company has been building up a silicon division over the past several years under former Intel Corp. executive Rani Borkar, and the group now has a staff of almost 1,000 employees. The Information last month reported on Microsoft’s development of the Athena artificial-intelligence chip.

Several hundred of those employees are working on the Athena project, and Microsoft has spent about $2 billion on its chip efforts. But the undertaking doesn’t portend a split with Nvidia. Microsoft intends to keep working closely with that company, whose chips are the workhorses for training and running AI systems. It’s also trying to find ways to get more Nvidia’s processors, underscoring the urgent shortage Microsoft and others are facing.

Microsoft’s relationship with OpenAI — and its own slate of newly introduced AI services — are requiring computing power at a level beyond what the company expected when it ordered chips and set up data centers. OpenAI’s ChatGPT service has drawn interest from businesses that want to use it as part of their own products or corporate applications, and Microsoft has introduced a chat-based version of Bing and new AI-enhanced Office tools.

It’s also updating older products like GitHub’s code-generating tool. All of those AI programs run in Microsoft’s Azure cloud and require the pricey and powerful processors Nvidia provides.

Borkar’s team at Microsoft, which has also worked on chips for servers and Surface computers, is now prioritizing the Athena project. It’s developing a graphics processing unit that can be used for training and running AI models. The product is already being tested internally and could be more widely available as soon as next year, said one of the people.

Even if the project makes that timeline, a first version is just a starting point, the people said. It takes years to build a good chip, and Nvidia has a substantial head start. Nvidia is the chip supplier of choice for many providers of tools for generative AI, including Amazon.com Inc.’s AWS and Google cloud, and Elon Musk has secured thousands of its processors for his fledgling AI business, according to reports.

Creating an alternative to Nvidia’s lineup will be a challenging task. That company offers a package of software and hardware that works together — including chips, a programming language, networking equipment and servers — letting customers rapidly upgrade their capabilities.

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