May 23, 2024
Nvidia GTC 2024 preview -- AI marches forward | Greg Estes



Nvidia’s GTC 2024 event is back in person at the San Jose Convention Center on March 18 to March 21, and it should draw more than 16,000 people in person and perhaps 300,000 online.

The growth from last year — perhaps double the number from the last time it was held in person — tells you a lot about the forward march of AI, said Greg Estes, vice president of developer programs at Nvidia, in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat.

“Nvidia is in a different place than we were in the world in 2019,” said Estes, referring to the last time for an in-person GTC event. “There are a lot of expectations for the company, a lot of excitement about the kinds of things that we’re doing. We’re all over the press. Our place in the world has changed.”

Indeed, Nvidia is the darling of generative AI, as its data center chips and graphics processing units (GPUs) are in high demand. Nvidia’s stock price is up 84% this year and Nvidia’s market value is $2.21 trillion, making it one of the top five most valuable tech companies.

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Nvidia learned that it could reach a lot more people around the world via the pandemic-driven online-only GTC events, and so it will keep the digital part of its event, which will focus on all things AI.

A big keynote

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang will give the keynote at Nvidia GTC 2024 in a concert-size venue.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang will give the keynote at Nvidia GTC 2024 in a concert-size venue.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang will kick of the event with an approximately two-hour keynote talk on March 18.

Feedback has shown that the quality of the show is high, and the event is akin to the heart of the generative AI revolution, Estes said. Sponsorships are sold out, and many key partners are showing up at the event. Jim Cramer of CNBC will broadcast live from GTC.

“That kind of connection into widespread audiences is really fundamentally different than it was in 2019. The last time we had a live one,” Estes said.

The keynote will take place at the SAP Center, a venue normally reserved for concerts, as it has a lot more capacity than the San Jose Convention Center. There will be more than 300 exhibitors.

“Jensen has a lot of star power,” Estes said.

Professional certification

Nvidia’s GTC keynote takes place on March 18 at SAP Center.

Nvidia will also offer a new professional certification in generative AI to enable developers to establish technical credibility in this important domain. Generative AI is revolutionizing industries worldwide, but there’s still a critical skills gap and need to uplevel employees to more fully harness the technology.

Available for the first time from Nvidia, the new professional certification enables developers, career professionals, and others to validate and showcase their generative AI skills and expertise. The new professional certification program introduces two associate-level generative AI certifications, focusing on proficiency in large language models and multimodal workflow skills.

“Generative AI has moved to center stage as governments, industries and organizations everywhere look to harness its transformative capabilities,” Huang said recently.

The certification will become available starting at GTC, where in-person attendees can also access recommended training to prepare for a certification exam.

“Organizations in every industry need to increase their expertise in this transformative technology,” said Estes. “Our goals are to assist in upskilling workforces, sharpen the skills of qualified professionals, and enable individuals to demonstrate their proficiency in order to gain a competitive advantage in the job market.”

OpenUSD and generative AI panel

Mercedes-Benz is building digital twins of its factories with Nvidia Omniverse.
Mercedes-Benz is building digital twins of its factories with Nvidia Omniverse.

The event also has 1,700 presenters and more than 900 talks. I’ll be moderating a session at 4 p.m. on March 19. The topic will be “Digitalizing the World’s Largest Industries With OpenUSD and Generative AI.”

Nvidia’s Omniverse is a platform to pull together all of the tech for the industrial metaverse, or those resources dedicated to making digital twins — things like virtual factories that are copies of physical factories.

“Everything that we do isn’t about generative AI,” he said. “The Omniverse and the industrial metaverse and the work that we’re doing in core graphics technologies and working around OpenUSD (standards for interoperable digital objects and spaces) all remain a very strong focus for us.”

Nvidia is working on its Earth 2 supercomputer that simulates the world’s climate in order to predict climate change for decades to come.

Live from the show

Nvidia OVX SuperPods can drive the metaverse.
Nvidia OVX SuperPods can drive the metaverse.

VentureBeat will also be broadcasting from the show, airing interviews with key partners.

Attendees can choose from 20 full-day, hands-on technical workshops, with many sessions available virtually in EMEA and APAC time zones. Also, attendees can sign up for the GTC Conference +
Training package for more than 40 complimentary onsite training labs.

Some of the original pioneers of AI will be at the event, coming from places like Google and the University of Toronto. A few hundred press will come. Huang’s talk will be unscripted, as usual, as one of his superpowers is showing off a vast amount of intellectual bandwidth, Estes said.

As for topics, “Generative AI is the big thing that everybody thinks and talks about it. And one of the things I was reflecting on. The last time we had a live keynote in 2019, generative AI papers were coming out as early research work. And in just that short time, you have it quite a number of enterprise-grade applications out there that are leveraging generative AI. All around the world, it is just in a completely different place than it has been done before.”

He also said that Nvidia’s focus is on accelerated computing and the goal is to surprise and delight people, Estes said.

“It would be a mistake to say everything is generative AI. It may be the biggest thing. It may be the most transformative thing that’s happening right now. But it’s not that to say there isn’t plenty of other stuff,” he said.

While GTC overlaps with the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Estes said the company will be sending a lot of speakers to San Francisco for gaming talks. He said the overlap couldn’t be helped because the space has to be booked for the show so far in advance.

As for other regional GTC shows, Estes said you should expect that Nvidia will plan on having other developer conferences in in other parts of the world.

“We will be out in our communities in force in 2024,” he said.

Tackling tough subjects

“NVIDIA GTC will feature a massive generative AI installation from world-renowned artist Refik Anadol. The name of the installation is Large Nature Model: Living Archive.
Nvidia GTC will feature a massive generative AI installation from world-renowned artist Refik Anadol. The name of the installation is Large Nature Model: Living Archive.

There will be a lot of talks on the issue of responsible AI, as many fear it could run out of control or eliminate a lot of jobs, Estes said. By having a lot of speakers and talks, Nvidia will create a platform for that dialogue, he said. There will also be sessions and space set aside for women, Black developers and other community-oriented sessions.

“You can’t do everything, every possible permutation. But you do what you can to bring diverse communities and diverse voices together at a place like GTC,” he said. “It is a place to talk about biases in AI, job creation, job elimination or job change. That’s the way you make real progress, when you get a lot of voices and a lot of smart people thinking about the hard problems.”

There will be a lot of discussion about how to create jobs in local communities related to AI, Estes said.

“There’s no perfect answer. And it takes cooperation between lots of different types of organizations, but there’s a role that we can play there,” he said.

There will also be a lot of discussion about the role of AI in Fortune 500 companies.

“Jensen says we’re the only AI company that works with every other AI company,” Estes said. “The position that we have is like being Switzerland.”

There are almost five million AI developers and 18,000 startups in Nvidia’s startup program.

Sovereign AI

Ready Robotics is using Nvidia tech in a robotics project with Toyota.
Ready Robotics is using Nvidia tech in a robotics project with Toyota.

Huang is likely to bring up the topic of sovereign AI, where each entity — like a company or a country — will view its data as so important that it will keep it completely within its control, inside the company itelf or inside the borders of the country itself. That will remake data centers, Estes said.

“There are many governments or governmental agencies that are representing their local community, and they want to keep the data in their country,” he said. “They want to have neural networks, large language models that are trained in the local language. They really don’t want to take everything and ship it off to some big multinational vendor and basically pay to take their data or give it to somebody else and then pay to get it back again.”

I’ve been to most of the GTCs that have taken place in person and moderated a number of sessions over the years. I’m looking forward to seeing this expression of the AI revolution in person again.

The event will have hundreds of VCs there, as the interest in AI startups has shot through the roof. There will aslo be charitable events where Nvidia gives back.

More than 700 people have signed up for “Dinner With Strangers,” he said, and there are more than 30 hotels being tapped to house the crowd.

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