Climbing Olympus: Amazon’s 2 Trillion Parameter Language Model Takes on AI Giant

Virginia Backaitis
2 min readNov 9
Climbing Mount Olympus

Amazon is making waves in the world of artificial intelligence with the development of its colossal language model codenamed “Olympus.” The project, which is shrouded in secrecy but recently revealed by Reuters, is a significant step for the tech giant as it seeks to compete with industry leaders like OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google.

Olympus, boasting a staggering 2 trillion parameters, is set to become one of the largest language models in existence. In comparison, OpenAI’s GPT-4, a close rival in terms of parameter count, came with a price tag of over $100 million for its development.

Parameters in AI are configuration settings that determine how the model processes data. Unlike hyperparameters, which are set by developers, parameters are defined during the AI’s training process, influencing how it interprets and responds to input data. The more parameters an AI model possesses, the wider range of tasks it can handle.

This ambitious undertaking is led by Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s Senior Vice President and Head Scientist for Artificial General Intelligence, a notable figure known for his previous leadership in the development of the popular Alexa voice assistant. Prasad has assembled a team of experts from the Alexa unit and Amazon Science to spearhead Olympus.

The primary objective of Olympus is to enhance the value proposition of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud computing division. This suggests that Olympus could eventually be offered to other companies through AWS, potentially posing a challenge to established AI developers like OpenAI and Anthropic, in which Amazon is a major investor.

Amazon’s move into large language models signals a strategic shift, reallocating resources from its retail unit to focus on generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs). This mirrors a global trend where companies worldwide are investing in their own LLMs, partially influenced by the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Amazon’s push into this domain is further exemplified by its investment of up to $4 billion in Anthropic, a San Francisco-based AI startup. Collaborations with Anthropic and AI21 Labs aim to make high-performing AI models accessible to enterprise clients via AWS, strengthening Amazon’s position in the AI market.

Furthermore, Amazon is looking to enhance its online retail platform and Alexa voice assistants through Olympus. This could lead to improved features, more sophisticated interactions, and greater capabilities, thereby competing directly with the conversational AI software offerings of OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, and other tech giants.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of generative AI, Amazon’s Olympus is poised to be a game-changer, and its announcement, expected as early as December, could reshape the industry and redefine Amazon’s presence in the AI market. As the battle of the language models intensifies, it’s clear that Amazon is determined to be a major player in the AI revolution.

Virginia Backaitis

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