Some video footage of a sprightly Jensen Huang has resurfaced via Reddit, and is causing a commotion. In the lengthy video we hear what appears to be a more idealistic version of the Nvidia CEO, with no leather jacket in sight, perched on the edge of a desk. He recounts how the video game graphics industry was looked down upon by investors, and his parents... However, the statement causing most sparks on social media today is when Jensen told the audience that one of his major goals was to make the best graphics technology “inexpensive.”
After a brief intro, Jensen outlined his vision beginning at 8:20 in the video below, where he talked about the importance of making gaming graphics cards affordable. “We started a company and the business plan basically read something like this,” stated the Nvidia CEO. “We are going to take technology that is only available only in the most expensive workstations. We’re going… to try and reinvent the technology and make it inexpensive.” He went on to explain to the attentive audience that his success was largely that “the killer app was video games.”
Jensen Huang related his experience as an engineer, entrepreneur and innovator to a small selection of Stanford University staff and students back in 2011. At the time, Nvidia was already a huge success, with many major industry milestones behind it; founded in 1994, with the popular Riva 128 launched in 1997, crediting itself with the ‘invention of the GPU’ in 1999, launching the CUDA architecture in 2005, and shipping of its billionth processor in the year this video was recorded. In product terms the highly anticipated GeForce GTX 500 (Fermi refresh) series was new. For some perspective the GeForce GTX 500 series of graphics cards launched in 2011 were priced (MSRP) between $149 (GeForce GTX 550 Ti) and $699 (GTX 590 with dual-GPUs).
It sounds like a great plan, looking back from 2023, but younger Jensen went on to describe how dismissive investors (and parents) were regarding the stated route to success – following the goal of designing 3D graphics chips for gaming.
Tech enthusiasts tend to look closely at developments over shorter timescales, as they are keen to get an eye on the next big development, but if we step back we can see a bigger picture. Ponder over, for example the improvements to PC gaming graphics since this Stanford talk, when a flagship GPU was $699. The equivalent sum is about $950 today if we just consider general inflation.
For perhaps another view, take a look at our popular reference article, the GPU Benchmarks and Hierarchy 2023. This shows a pleasingly wide selection of graphics cards which are comparatively performance ranked from as far back as the GeForce RTX 900 series (Maxwell architecture, 2014-15) days. The steady march of GPU generational performance is still pretty clear to see, and if the prices are inherently wrong, the market will always decide. Let us know what you think about Jensen's 2011 statements in the comments section.