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Microsoft’s AI Ambitions Go Nuclear With Next-Gen Reactors

Windows company turns to small modular reactors to power data centres for artificial intelligence delivering what it calls ‘a new computing platform’

Windows company Microsoft envisions the potential of next-generation nuclear reactors to provide the energy needed for its data centres and AI endeavours, as indicated by a job posting seeking a principal program manager to spearhead the company’s nuclear energy strategy.

As reported by The Verge, data centres consume a significant amount of electricity, posing a challenge to Microsoft’s climate goals unless it can secure clean energy sources. The energy demands of AI further compound this challenge, especially considering AI’s prominent role in the company’s recent Surface event.

From the recent job listing, it appears that Microsoft is placing its bets on advanced nuclear reactors as the solution. The posting indicates the company’s intention to hire someone to oversee project initiatives for the entire nuclear energy infrastructure to support global expansion.

A new computing platform 

“The next major wave of computing is being born, as the Microsoft Cloud turns the world’s most advanced AI models into a new computing platform,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft. “We are committed to helping our customers use our platforms and tools to do more with less today and innovate for the future in the new era of AI.” 

The role of nuclear energy in addressing climate change remains a topic of debate, but Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been a staunch advocate of this technology for quite some time. The company is seeking an individual capable of developing a strategy for implementing small modular reactors (SMRs), which are at the forefront of the current nuclear energy buzz.

In contrast to their older, more substantial predecessors, these modular reactors are designed to be more straightforward and cost-effective to construct. To put this into perspective, the most recent large nuclear reactor built in the US came online this summer, exceeding its initial budget by approximately $17 billion after seven years of delay.

Nuclear challenges 

Nonetheless, there are still challenges to overcome if Microsoft intends to use SMRs for powering the data centres that support its cloud and AI operations. SMRs demand a higher quantity of highly enriched uranium fuel, known as HALEU and Russia has been the primary global provider of HALEU, according to The Verge. 

While the company is no longer accepting applications for the role, the ideal candidate will be tasked with, “Leading the technical assessment for the integration of SMR and microreactors to power the datacenters that the Microsoft Cloud and AI reside on.” 

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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