Taiwanese American Cousins Leading the Global AI Race: Nvidia and AMD
This article explores the fascinating story of the two Taiwanese-American cousins, Jensen Huang and Lisa Su, CEOs of Nvidia and AMD, who are now competing head-to-head in the global AI chip industry.
In the rapidly evolving world of technology, two figures stand out as key players in the global AI industry: Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, and Lisa Su, CEO of AMD. What makes their story even more compelling is that they are not just competitors but also cousins.
“I would say anyone who logs on the internet is likely touching not just one, but dozens and hundreds of Nvidia and AMD chips.” - Christopher Miller, author of “Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology"
Family Ties in the AI Industry
The familial connection between Huang and Su was first acknowledged by Su in 2020 and has since been detailed by Jean Wu, a Taiwanese genealogist. Despite not growing up together, the cousins now find themselves at the pinnacle of one of the world's most closely-watched sectors. Their shared family history has roots in Taiwan, an island increasingly caught between the US and China in the high-tech supremacy battle.
Similar Paths to Success
Despite being raised mostly abroad, Su and Huang both chose the same field of study—electrical engineering—and pursued a career in the fast-paced world of semiconductors. Before founding Nvidia in 1993, Huang worked at AMD as a microprocessor designer. Su joined AMD nearly two decades later and is credited with turning around the company.
From Cousins to Competitors
Today, their respective companies, Nvidia and AMD, headquartered just a 5-minute drive apart in Santa Clara, California, sell hardware and software to the world's leading tech companies. These firms, once best known by gamers for producing graphics processing units (GPUs), are now also recognized for their role in the development of generative AI technologies. Nvidia’s H100 GPUs, for example, have been used by OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, to train its language model. On the other hand, AMD's recently launched MI300X is billed as "the world's most advanced accelerator for generative AI."
Impact on Society and Economy
These companies have gained mainstream recognition for providing cutting-edge technology that promises to reshape society. The processors they manufacture are increasingly used to help run electric cars and AI systems, extending their reach beyond PCs and PlayStations. The AI boom, in particular, has supercharged shares of Nvidia, leading to a significant stock rally. AMD's shares have also considerably increased, although the company is much smaller than Nvidia.
Challenges and Future Prospects
Both chipmakers, however, may face challenges due to geopolitical tensions, especially with US export controls to China affecting advanced AI chips. Despite these potential hurdles, Su and Huang continue to lead their companies in a competitive yet collaborative manner, contributing significantly to the global AI industry.