BUFFALO, N.Y. -- New York state has already announced its Empire AI Consortium, named the University at Buffalo as the program's hub and even secured private contributions.

However, UB Vice President of Research and Economic Development Venu Govindaraju said it wasn't until lawmakers passed the budget over the weekend, including $250 million for the initiative, that it officially became a reality.

"You couldn't actually do things in any concrete fashion until the budget was approved so I think we are off to the races now," he said.

Govindaraju said the SUNY and CUNY systems, private universities and other private partners are beginning to discuss things like the location and construction of a facility, purchasing supercomputing equipment, the formation of an administrative entity and other components. He said equipment and hardware is vital because AI requires massive amounts to drive inference engines.

"More data has to be processed which means you need more memory to hold the data and do things in parallel and so on so the Micron chips are going to be a crucial part for any of the future of artificial intelligence systems," Govindaraju said.

With the $6.1 billion President Joe Biden announced in Syracuse Thursday that the federal government will invest in Micron facilities in Central New York and Idaho, the company plans to make what are called Dynamic Random Access Memory chips. White House CHIPS Coordinator Ryan Harper said the technology is the future.

"DRAM memory stores small  amoounts of information that can be rapidly processed and pulled into applications so artificial intelligence which relies on this sort of information storage and rapidly pulling information will absolutely rely on high bandwidth memory," Harper said.

Govindaraju expects Empire AI to eventually use the tech being produced nearby and believes Micron will produce many other net benefits for the consortium.

"Being positioned near this futuristic foundry fab facility in Micron in Syracuse, I think they're going to feed into each other in synergistic ways we can't even imagine today," he said.

Govidaraju said the consortium, the federal government designating the Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse regions as a tech hub and the Micron investment are already creating significant interest in UB's programs.