The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced Thursday that Jensen Huang, chief executive and a co-founder of Nvidia, will receive the organization's Robert N. Noyce Award. One of the industry's most prestigious award is given to recognize Huang's contributions to the semiconductor industry in general and computing acceleration in particular.
Jensen Huang founded Nvidia in 1993 and for years the company has been focused solely on advancing 3D graphics and gaming. Circa 2001 ~ 2002, the company started to publicly mull about general-purpose processing on graphics processing units (GPGPU). Back then the idea wasn't popular due to limitations of Nvidia's Kelvin, Rankine, and Curie architectures from the early 2000s as well as a lack of application programming interfaces (APIs). But along with its Tesla architecture launched in 2006, the company introduced its CUDA platform, a GPGPU API and toolset. Nvidia's CUDA GPUs quickly became popular accelerators for high-performance computing (HPC) applications and even powered some of the world's fastest supercomputers in 2000s and 2010s.
But GPU and HPC businesses were not enough for Huang, so, the company he co-founded engaged into a much larger endeavor called artificial intelligence, a technology that can power everything from facial recognition software to self-driving vehicles and from factory robots to chip inspection tools. Nvidia's optimized for AI applications (such as the V100 and the A100) can process huge amounts of data faster than CPUs (at least when the latter don't run specially optimized code), which to a large degree helps to advance the whole industry forward.
"Jensen Huang’s extraordinary vision and tireless execution have greatly strengthened our industry, revolutionized computing, and advanced artificial intelligence," said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. "Jensen’s accomplishments have fueled countless innovations — from gaming to scientific computing to self-driving cars — and he continues to advance technologies that will transform our industry and the world. We’re pleased to recognize Jensen with the 2021 Robert N. Noyce Award for his many achievements in advancing semiconductor technology."
Jensen Huang is the thirty-first semiconductor industry executive to receive the Robert Noyce award. Over the years, four Intel executives, three IBM executives, three Texas Instruments executives, two AMD executives, two Applied Materials executives and two Micron executives have received the award.
"It has been the greatest joy and privilege to have grown up with the semiconductor and computer industries, two that so profoundly impact the world," said Huang. "As we enter the era of AI, robotics, digital biology, and the metaverse, we will see super-exponential technology advances. There’s never been a more exciting or important time to be in the semiconductor and computer industries."
The Robert Noyce award was created in 1990 by the SIA Board of Directors to honor the memory of Robert Noyce, who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957, Intel in 1968 and the Semiconductor Industry Association in 1977.