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Intel, AMD to compete with Nvidia for GPU supply under India’s AI mission

Global players like Intel and AMD will have a level playing field with Nvidia for supplying graphics processing units (GPU) for setting up compute infrastructure in the country under the Rs 10,372 crore AI mission.

This is because the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) will follow the tender route to procure the GPUs instead of any direct engagement with Nvidia, official sources said. US-based Nvidia, currently dominates the GPU market with about 80% share. As a result, supplies from the company is coming with a lag of several months.

The details of the tender will be finalised once a new government takes charge next month. The development will come as a huge relief to Intel, AMD, and others, who felt that any direct engagement with Nvidia will deprive them of the opportunity to participate in the programme.

GPUs are essential for creating AI models as these require large-scale computing, which cannot be done by central processing units (CPUs). Under the IndiaAI mission, Meity has set a target to make available atleast 10,000 GPUs by March 2026.

Given the price of high-end GPUs in the range of Rs 20 lakh to Rs 40 lakh a unit, estimates suggest that the same could cost the government around Rs 4,000 crore. However, the government will consult the industry before deciding on the kind of GPUs to be procured and then float the tender.

The AI mission basically pertains to bringing AI compute capacity under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode through GPU-based servers, allocating early-stage funding to deeptech startups, setting up of innovation centres and developing broader AI sovereign infrastructure in the country.

The compute infrastructure is essential for startups, academia and researchers to test or run their large language models (LLMs) for their AI offerings. In the absence of government support, procuring GPUs would be a costly affair for the companies as even for running basic tasks there is a need for at least 100 GPUs.

The government support will help the companies to reduce computing costs by around 50%. Once the GPUs are procured by the government, it will look to offer the same as a viability gap funding model or a voucher-based model to the companies.

At present, the US and China lead in computing infrastructure required for the development of AI technology.

Under the AI mission, the government is also looking to fund the development of indigenous foundational model with the help of researchers, academia and startups that will be trained on the Indian datasets and will be more relevant within the country. Financial Express

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