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SoftBank will reportedly invest nearly $1 billion in AI push, tapping Nvidia’s chips

According to Nikkei, Japanese tech company SoftBank is trying to construct a “world-class” Japanese-language-specific generative artificial intelligence model and aims to invest $960 million in computer facilities over the next two years.

SoftBank aims to purchase powerful graphics processing units from Nvidia to train large language models (LLM), including OpenAI’s Chat GPT, according to Nikkei, citing anonymous sources.

According to the article, SoftBank would invest 150 billion yen ($960 million) on computer infrastructure in 2024 and 2025, on top of the 20 billion yen it spent last year.

The latest investment is estimated to be the largest of its sort by any Japanese corporation, and when completed, SoftBank would likely have the most powerful computing capacity in the country, according to Nikkei.

According to another Nikkei Asia study, Japan lacks private enterprises with the high-performance supercomputers required to create LLM, despite rising interest in the technology.

SoftBank’s rumored investments may change this, giving Japan a strong domestic player in the generative AI field at a time when multinational firms are attempting to enter the industry.

OpenAI has built its first office in Tokyo as part of its global expansion goals. Meanwhile, Microsoft announced a $2.9 billion investment over two years to expand its cloud computing and artificial intelligence infrastructure in the country.

SoftBank aims to complete its first model in fiscal year 2024, with 390 billion parameters, demonstrating the complexity of LLM. It will also begin creating a higher-performance model with 1 trillion parameters as early as 2025, according to Nikkei.

Other local firms, like Japanese telecoms company NTT, have declared ambitions to develop an LLM this fiscal year. NTT also plans to invest 8 trillion yen ($51.7 billion) in growth areas such as data centers and artificial intelligence over the next five years.

According to Statista Market Insights, Japan’s AI market is predicted to reach $13 billion by 2030, which is around 17 times greater than in 2023.

SoftBank’s stock price has risen by approximately 20% year to date as the business changes its focus to artificial intelligence. It also owns the majority of the chip maker Arm, which has seen sales estimates rise as a result of the artificial intelligence development.

SoftBank is apparently focused on establishing AI data centers throughout Japan, and has recently joined a project to build a 65 billion yen center in Hokkaido.

Read the entire report on Nikkei Asia.



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