Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has pledged to prioritize the nation in distributing its highly sought-after Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). This responsibility, aimed at fostering Japan’s burgeoning AI industry, marks a crucial step in the global race for technological supremacy.
Huang’s assurance came during a recent announcement, emphasizing Nvidia’s role in supporting Japan’s AI ambitions. He remarked, “Demand is soaring, and in alignment with our discussions with the Japanese government, we are fully committed to meeting Japan’s GPU needs first and foremost.” This move will catalyze a transformative era in robotics and AI, leveraging Japan’s manufacturing prowess.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang promised Japan’s prime minister that his company will do its best to supply its GPUs, vital to AI development, to the nation, Reuters reports. "Demand is very high, but … we will do our very, very best to prioritize Japan's requirements for GPUs," Huang…
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Collaborating with Japanese tech giants
Japan’s major technology players, including NTT, Sakura Internet, NEC, and Softbank, are joining with Nvidia. Their goal is to create AI solutions that can automate various processes, a critical need in Japan’s technology landscape. Huang also highlighted plans to collaborate on establishing more AI-driven data centers across Japan.
Nvidia’s plan, however, is not without its challenges. The company’s practice of chip design rather than manufacturing relies heavily on partners like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) for production. Given the surging demand, TSMC is considering a third fabrication plant in Japan, which could significantly boost local GPU availability.
Japan’s pursuit of a GPU reserve
Japan is not alone in its quest to accumulate GPU reserves; it joins other nations like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom in recognizing GPUs as a strategic asset. These countries actively build stockpiles, acknowledging GPUs’ critical role in leading-edge industries.
China, too, is striving to enhance its GPU supply, although US sanctions pose significant hurdles. These sanctions restrict the export of high-speed chips, prompting Nvidia to develop sanction-compliant alternatives that are currently facing delays. In response, Chinese companies are reportedly repurposing consumer-grade GPUs to meet their AI processing needs.
US scrutiny over Nvidia’s compliance efforts
The US government has expressed concerns over Nvidia’s approach to circumventing export restrictions to China. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stated, “We will promptly regulate any redesigned chips that facilitate AI capabilities.” Taiwan’s economic minister, Wang Mei-hua, has also reminded local firms to adhere to US regulations, with an upcoming US delegation set to discuss these matters in Taiwan.
Despite these challenges, Nvidia’s GPUs remain in high demand globally. Tech giants like Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, and Bytedance were significant purchasers of Nvidia’s H100 GPUs. In contrast, Microsoft and Meta each acquired 150,000 units, with Google and Amazon purchasing 50,000 each in 2023.
Encouraging Chinese innovation in chip design
The current US sanctions are inadvertently spurring innovation in China’s chip design sector. Huang noted the immense incentive for Chinese companies to develop technology comparable to Nvidia’s. This competitive environment fosters a wave of new ventures in chip design, indicating a dynamic shift in the global tech landscape.