In response to the global GPU shortage, Microsoft and Oracle are exploring a new solution – the sharing of server capacity for large-scale artificial intelligence (AI) cloud customers. According to a report from The Information, a potential deal is currently under discussion, with no final decision reached yet.
Using Existing Server Infrastructure to Share Resources
The two tech behemoths announced a partnership back in 2019, which allowed their customers to run computing jobs across both clouds. They are now considering utilizing this existing infrastructure, which includes direct connection fiber links between their data centers, to share GPU server capacity.
As Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger pointed out just recently, the current chip shortage which is not just limited to GPUs might drag on for at least two more years due to the strain on key manufacturing tools. “[W]e believe the overall semiconductor shortage will now drift into 2024,” Gelsinger told CNBC.
Rationing AI Servers Amid Shortages
In light of the ongoing shortages, Microsoft has taken steps to ration access to AI servers for some of its internal teams. The goal is to ensure its customers maintain access to the essential computing resources they need.
OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT and Dall-E, is one of the companies heavily relying on Microsoft's AI servers. Microsoft has invested billions in OpenAI, in return gaining an exclusive license to offer its services over its Azure cloud platform. Furthermore, Oracle has shown interest in reselling OpenAI's software to its customers in a similar manner to its current practice with Microsoft's 365 productivity suite.
Navigating Global Shortages: Partnerships and AI Chip Development
The global GPU shortages have been a significant challenge for tech companies like Microsoft and Oracle. The proposed server-sharing strategy could potentially mark the beginning of a novel, collaborative approach to managing such crises. Oracle's interest in reselling OpenAI's software further emphasizes the strengthening relationship between these two tech giants in the face of adversity.
Microsoft is also partnering with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to increase its presence in artificial intelligence (AI) processors, offering an alternative to market leader Nvidia. The collaboration includes financial backing for AMD and joint development of a proprietary Microsoft AI processor. The upcoming AI chip is part of Microsoft's Project Olympus, a modular hardware design that allows the company to customize its servers for different workloads.