Nvidia CEO Bets Big On India

Nvidia Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jensen Huang just completed a five-day trip to India during which he visited four cities, dined with tech leaders and researchers, snapped a lot of selfies, and had a private discussion on the AI industry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Huang admitted to surviving entire workdays on spicy masala omelettes and cold coffees due to his overbooked agenda in India.

Although Huang was received like a head of state, the trip was entirely for business purposes. The 1.4 billion-person South Asian nation represents an exceptional prospect for Nvidia, whose graphics chips are essential to the development of artificial intelligence systems. India might develop into a source of AI expertise, a location for chip manufacture, and a market for Nvidia’s products as the US tightens its restrictions on the export of high-end processors to China and the globe looks for an alternative electronics manufacturing base.

Huang discussed retraining large segments of the workforce and developing future AI models using Indian data and talent during a meeting with top researchers in Delhi, according to several attendees. Huang also expressed his strong belief in the engineering talent of India, notably in graduates from its top engineering universities, Indian Institutes of Technology, to an executive in Bangalore, the country’s tech powerhouse.

Huang stated at a press conference in Bangalore that you have the information and the talent. This will be one of the world’s largest AI markets, continued Huang.

Nvidia and India both have a stake in accelerating the nation’s ascent in the field of artificial intelligence. High-end microprocessors cannot be sold to China, which represents a fifth of Nvidia’s sales, because to concerns that the chips could be used to create autonomous weapons or engage in cyberwarfare. According to Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, India is the only market that is still open, so it is understandable that Nvidia would want to stake a number of bets there.

Although Indian engineers play a significant role in the digital workforce, the nation is still a long way from acquiring the cutting-edge capabilities required to produce the sophisticated chips made by Nvidia. However, India hopes to expand its electronic manufacturing industry and use AI to strengthen its digital economy. In order to entice companies like Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., and Intel Corp., the nation is pouring billions of dollars in subsidies into building chip manufacturing facilities.

Nandan Nilekani, chairman of Infosys Ltd. and the primary designer of the fundamental components of the vast digital public infrastructure of the nation, stated that India is strategically important to the future of Nvidia. Large business companies and the government are both putting a lot of effort into developing AI infrastructure. That is fantastic news for Huang, according to Nilekani, who had dinner with the chip billionaire while he was in town.

The billionaire Taiwanese-American visited the prime minister’s house in Delhi. Modi revealed that they discussed “the rich potential India presents in the world of AI.

Throughout the journey, Huang and Nvidia observed indications of this potential. Huang’s multi-city tour included an announcement from Reliance, the largest conglomerate in India and the company that Mukesh Ambani, a billionaire, owns. Jio Platforms will develop the nation’s AI computing infrastructure. Nvidia said in a release that the AI cloud will utilize its full complement of supercomputing technology. In addition to developing and running cutting-edge AI supercomputing data centers, Reliance and another sizable conglomerate, Tata, will also provide AI infrastructure as a service to be used by researchers, businesses, and startups, according to Nvidia, without providing further information or releasing a timetable.

To the extent that this month, Apple will sell India-made iPhone 15 smartphones on launch day, India has had some success in persuading industry heavyweights Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. to move contract electronics manufacturing from China. It is now focusing on semiconductors, having some chip design experience but no prior experience with semiconductor foundries. The majority of state-of-the-art chips, including those created by Nvidia, are produced in Taiwan. To reach its current levels of manufacturing competence, the nation spent billions over many years.

India wants to catch up, but it is having trouble developing into an AI hub. According to Sashikumaar Ganesan, head of the computational and data sciences division at the Indian Institute of Science, neither the nation’s exascale computing capacity, which can perform one billion billion calculations per second, nor its pool of skilled AI programmers are currently available in the country. Ganesan, one of those invited to Huang’s meeting with AI experts, stated that in addition to building AI infrastructure, we also need to establish a workforce skilled in high-performance computing.

However, K. Krishna Moorthy, CEO of industry association India Electronics and Semiconductor Association, noted that the market for high-end technologies in India is rapidly maturing. Nvidia’s graphics processing units, or GPUs, are in extremely high demand as a result. According to Moorthy, the government needs data security, data privacy, and data localization as India’s digital economy expands. To construct an AI cloud infrastructure, this could require over 100,000 GPUs.

The nation is home to telecom behemoths like Reliance’s Jio, which daily collects billions of data points from its 500 million mobile phone users and hundreds of millions of retailers. According to Moorthy, the 1.4 billion Indians who generate data could position the nation for the upcoming stage of digital growth. Huang is aware that this will mark the beginning of the next round of development for chips that support AI.

With four engineering centers in India, including ones in Bangalore and the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, Nvidia already has its second-largest talent pool behind the US, with 4,000 engineers. Huang addressed town hall meetings while he was there and emphasized the significance of maintaining competitiveness in a market for AI that is quickly evolving. His take on the proverb “hunt or be hunted” was repeated while he was speaking to the staff: “Either you are running for food or running away from being food.”

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