Memphis to host 'Gigafactory of Compute' thanks to xAI and Elon Musk's billions

City known for blues, BBQ, and now possibly the 'world's largest supercomputer'

xAI plans to build the "world's largest supercomputer" in Memphis, Tennessee according to the city's local government.

The Grok chatbot maker, a startup headed by Elon Musk and closely linked to the tech tycoon's Twitter, is investing billions of dollars into the supercomputer - termed the Gigafactory of Compute - and will break the record for biggest investment in the city, according to Ted Townsend, president of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

"In less than 90 days, the Greater Memphis Chamber's economic development team moved at lightning speed to ensure Memphis would be in a position to be selected by xAI," Townsend said at a press conference.

The incredibly short time between exploration for the supercomputer's site and Memphis being chosen is probably why there are so few details on the project, such as specifications, performance, cost, and time to build.

Townsend said he was "not at liberty to identify the location due to global security concerns." However, the Memphis Business Journal reports that a factory formerly operated by Electrolux will be repurposed for the supercomputer. The facility is owned by Phoenix Investors, which Townsend said was involved in the xAI-Memphis collaboration.

It is also so early in the process that xAI is still seeking approval from local entities like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Getting approval and a deal worked out will be crucial for xAI, as the TVA is the regional power company for all of the state and some neighboring areas. Modern datacenters, especially those with AI hardware, consume so much power that the industry is expected to use around a tenth of the nation's electricity supply within years. The Gigafactory of Compute, when built, is likely to have a significant impact on Memphis's local power infrastructure.

Should the xAI-operated supercomputer fulfill its promise to be the world's fastest, it would be yet another supercomputer win for Tennessee. On the other side of the state, Oak Ridge National Laboratory hosts Frontier, which has claimed the title of world's fastest supercomputer since 2022 and the first to be considered exascale. ®

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