Microsoft Backs Firm Behind Local AI Supercomputer

Supercomputer | Image by Cerebras

Dallas could soon be home to the world’s largest artificial intelligence supercomputer — and what should come as no surprise is that Microsoft wants a piece of it.

Microsoft announced on Monday that it plans to invest $1.5 billion in G42, a leading technology holding company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that is building an artificial intelligence (AI) supercomputer in Dallas.

Known as the Condor Galaxy 3 (CG3), the AI supercomputer is a joint project by G42 and Cerebras Systems Inc., an AI company based in Sunnyvale, California. Adding to its constellation of AI supercomputers, the CG3 can deliver eight exaflops of AI supercomputing performance, double that of earlier iterations.

To put that into perspective, an Invidia blog describes an exaflop (a measure of performance for a supercomputer) as the equivalent of a billion people holding a billion calculators and deciding to hit the equal sign simultaneously.

The supercomputer is expected to become available sometime in the second quarter of 2024, according to a news release.

As part of Microsoft’s strategic investment, the tech giant will acquire a minority stake in G42 and join its board of directors. By partnering with G42, Microsoft says the two companies can co-innovate and deliver advanced AI solutions for various industries and markets across the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.

“With the breadth of the Microsoft Cloud and its differentiated AI capabilities, the deal significantly advances G42’s strategy of delivering generative AI and next-generation infrastructure and services for a range of customers across financial services, healthcare, energy, government, and education,” said Microsoft.

The deal will also require G42 to migrate its data platform and other essential technology infrastructure to Microsoft Azure. By migrating to Azure, G42 will be able to benefit from Microsoft’s industry-leading performance, scalability, and security capabilities.

“Migrating to Azure will also support AI product development that allows G42 to create services that can scale to achieve faster delivery times for its customers globally,” said Microsoft.

Although Dallas is the home of an emerging AI supercomputer, U.S. officials have raised concerns about G42’s ties to China. According to reporting by The New York Times, G42 is overseen by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, the Emirates’ national security adviser and younger brother to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the country’s ruler.

Microsoft President Brad Smith, who will take a set on G42’s board, says he is acutely aware of the national security concerns involving G42. However, under the new partnership, G42 has reportedly agreed to strip China from its operations, among other steps.

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