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Microsoft is planning to use nuclear energy to power its AI data centers

Microsoft is exploring plans to use nuclear energy to power its AI data centres as it grapples with the huge amount of energy needed to run models like ChatGPT.

The company is hiring a “principal program manager for nuclear technology” to assess how nuclear energy could be used to power the data centres hosting AI models, according to a job listing posted on Thursday.

Initially reported by CNBC, it says the tech giant will be focusing on using microreactors and Small Modular Reactors, which are far cheaper to build and run than larger nuclear reactors, to “power the data centers that the Microsoft Cloud and AI reside on.”

AI models require a huge amount of computing power to run, with analysis finding ChatGPT could cost as much as $700,000 a day to operate due to its huge server costs. The job listing suggests that Microsoft sees nuclear energy as the way to meet this spiraling energy demand.

The tech giant reportedly struck a $10 billion deal with OpenAI, the makers of ChatGPT, part of which saw Microsoft provide the AI startup with the cloud services that enable the start-ups models to run.

It has also folded OpenAI’s technology into its Bing search engine, launching an AI-powered search tool earlier this year.

There has been growing concern over the environmental impact of generative AI’s massive energy use. Academic analysis has estimated that training GPT-3 produced more than 550 tons of carbon dioxide and required 3.5 million liters of water.

Microsoft recently pledged to accelerate efforts to power data centers with renewable energy and reduce emissions, and plans to make its business carbon negative, water positive, and zero waste by 2030.


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