Kuala Lumpur-based YTL Power International announced on Friday that it has struck a deal with US tech firm NVIDIA to build AI capabilities into a data centre in Malaysia’s Johor state from the middle of next year.
The agreement was announced in a meeting attended by NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang, Malaysian prime minister Anwar bin Ibrahim, minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Zafrul Abdul Aziz and YTL Power International managing director Yeoh Seok Hong, with YTL Power touting the deal in a statement on its website as bringing the fastest supercomputers to the country next year.
“In the 12 months since the launch of ChatGPT, we have seen how AI is changing the way we work, live, and learn,” said YTL Power’s Yeoh. “Having our own supercomputing infrastructure and the ability to train talent locally will accelerate Malaysia’s advancement towards being a top AI nation. This will be the foundation for a digital economy powered by innovative solutions and applications built on our very own sovereign LLM (large language models).”
NVIDIA’s equipment will be put to use at YTL Green Data Center Park in Johor Bahru’s Iskandar region where the company has begun work on a 500MW data centre campus just across the border from Singapore, with completion of the first phase expected in 2024.
Getting Geared Up
In a Facebook post on Friday, Anwar said the meeting included discussion of Malaysia’s potential to become a top 20 country for AI with the prime minister saying, “I emphasised that Malaysia needs world-class AI infrastructure to nurture local talent and develop AI-led innovation.”
Anwar went on to say that NVIDIA’s Huang expressed support for those goals and indicated that NVIDIA agreed to help develop Malaysia’s AI ecosystem by assisting in development of a center of excellence to facilitate AI learning and research, in addition to the creation of Malaysia’s own AI cloud system.
“By offering supercomputing cloud services and leveraging AI to power innovations, such partnerships enhance our economic complexity, paving the way for us to become a high technology and high-income nation while further positioning Malaysia as a top investment destination,” Tengku Zafrul, said after the meeting, according to YTL Power’s statement.
Under the terms of the deal, YTL Power, which has branched out into data centres from its core business of power generation, will deploy NVIDIA equipment and software designed for building, customising, deploying and optimising generative AI models at its Johor facility.
Since the dawn of ChatGPT last year data centre operators have seen a surge of leasing from tech giants hoping to lead an artificial intelligence revolution, with a record 850 megawatts of power capacity taken up in major US markets during the second quarter, according to research by industry information provider DataCenter Hawk, with Asian players gearing up for that wave to reach the region.
With YTL Corporation, the parent company of YTL Power operating in businesses including construction materials, property development, and other areas, the conglomerate’s YTL Communications telecom subsidiary will own and manage the AI infrastructure at the facility, according to the announcement.
Making AI Speak Bahasa
At YTL Green Data Center Park, the NVIDIA installation will be powered by on-site green energy, with YTL building a 300MW solar farm on location, according to a YTL representative who spoke to Mingtiandi when the project was announced in April of last year.
“This collaboration with NVIDIA is poised to bring many benefits to the nation,” said YTL’s Yeoh. “Our green data centres and low energy solutions are an ideal fit to be used with their high-performance supercomputers. We are excited to begin this journey to bring our nation to the forefront of AI development.”
YTL also said it plans to use NVIDIA systems “to customise and deploy a Malay language foundation model that will be sensitive to Malaysia’s multi-cultural heritage.”
The announcement by YTL came just two days after a group of Singapore agencies announced that they are teaming up to build Southeast Asia’s first large language model. The city-state’s
Institute for Infocomm Research, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and AI Singapore are working together under a formal government initiative called the National Multimodal LLM Programme (NMLP).
In a statement, the Institute for Infocomm Research said, “The development of this LLM will be a strategic cornerstone for Singapore and the regional countries, having our own AI model specifically trained to understand context and values related to the diverse cultures and languages of Southeast Asia.
While there have been scores of mainland Chinese LLM launched over the past few years, Taiwan semiconductor maker MediTek said in April this year that it had released the first model using traditional Chinese characters.