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Computing

Steve Jobs’ legacy lives on with highest U.S. civilian honor

Steve Jobs will soon receive the highest civilian honor awarded in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The announcement was made today by President Biden and the award will be presented posthumously to the co-founder of Apple, Inc. on July 7, 2022, along with 16 other individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the United States.

The Medal of Freedom has no specific criteria and each U.S. President can award this honor to anyone that is deemed worthy. President Biden explained his picks as Americans that demonstrate the power of possibilities, a common theme in his speeches about the potential of the nation.

Kurita KAKU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Steve Jobs brought us the iPhone, the revolutionary device that changed the meaning of a phone and introduced a new way to work and communicate. Apple is a major contributor to the U.S. economy, generating over 2.7 million jobs and investing hundreds of billions of dollars domestically. Funding will be spent on iPhone, iPad, and Mac research and development and network infrastructure, green energy, Apple TV+ productions, and other capital expenditures.

Along with Steve Jobs, President Biden selected several other well-known and inspirational Americans to receive the Medal of Freedom, including Simone Biles, winner of 43 Olympic and World Championship medals; former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords; former Senator John McCain (posthumous); former Senator Alan Simpson; Olympic gold medalist and Women’s World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe; and the biggest celebrity on the list, Denzel Washington, acclaimed actor and director that has received two Academy Awards, a Tony, and two Golden Globes.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is represented by a star-shaped insignia that can be worn as a badge, as a lapel pin, or around the neck. It comes with no special privileges or awards and is simply meant to recognize and honor individual contributions to the security and national interests of the United States, as well as efforts that benefit cultural development and world peace.

While Steve Jobs didn’t push Apple to such great success single-handedly, Apple might never have reached this level of excellence without his guidance and drive. The Medal of Freedom seems like an appropriate honor for a visionary business leader.

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Categories
Computing

AMD Achieves the Highest CPU Market Share In Over a Decade

According to a new report, AMD has managed to achieve its highest CPU market share since the Athlon 64 days, which was over 14 years ago.

The processor market is still undoubtedly a two-horse race, and Intel is always in the lead. However, AMD has managed to climb out of the nearly-forgotten territory that it was in just a few years ago. The manufacturer has continued to improve its standing ever since the release of its successful Zen line of processors four years ago. AMD managed to draw in a brand-new userbase thanks to the modern core architecture used in Zen, Zen 2, and now Zen 3 processors.

Mercury Research has performed an analysis of the x86 CPU market, composing of consumer desktop and laptop processors, custom silicon CPUs found in PlayStation 5 and Xbox X/S, as well as server chips. According to the figures presented by Mercury Research for the second quarter of 2021, AMD has climbed up to a 22.5% market share on the x86 processor front. Compared to Intel’s 77.5%, this may still not seem like a lot — but it shows a steady improvement for the company. As the market is dominated by Intel and AMD, a gain for AMD means a loss for Intel. Figures from the second quarter of last year (2020) show that Intel’s current 77.5% standing is a drop of over 4%.

AMD is not seeing improvements all across the board, however. When it comes to the x86 desktop processor space, the company is experiencing a downward trend. In the first quarter of this year, AMD’s market share in this sector was at 19.3%. Now, AMD is at 17.1% compared to Intel’s 82.9%. On the other hand, AMD’s standing has gone up both in the mobile CPU and the server CPU sectors, where its Epyc CPUs are rivaling against Intel Xeon.

The drop in the x86 desktop CPU market share likely stems from the ongoing chip shortage. The entire tech industry is affected by it, from cars to graphics cards, processors, and gaming consoles. Low silicon availability has forced most manufacturers to choose where to direct the majority of their chips.

It’s possible that AMD has chosen to focus on its console and mobile CPUs, allowing Intel to fill the gap in the desktop sector.

“In the current capacity-constrained market, the suppliers have to choose which segments to build products for, and in Q2 it appears that AMD traded off desktop production for more mobile and console CPUs, while Intel traded low-end mobile CPUs for more desktop processors,” said Dean McCarron, the president of Mercury Research.

Render of an AMD Ryzen chip.

The decision may seem peculiar, but it’s not without merit. AMD has certainly secured a loyal client base, and the good quality of its Ryzen processors drives PC builders towards the brand. Even though Intel continues to hold a higher market share, it is AMD processors that are selling out quickly and holding the top spots on several lists of the best desktop processors. Mindfactory, a popular German retailer, has also noted increasingly high sales for AMD, accounting for 76% of desktop CPUs sold last month. This means that only 24% of Mindfactory’s sales were Intel Core processors.

Although AMD is nowhere near beating Intel or even meeting it in the middle, these past few years have been the most successful the company has seen since 2007. Its greatest success still remains in the Athlon 64 days, when in the fourth quarter of 2006, AMD held a 25.3% x86 CPU market share.

Is AMD going to beat its personal record from nearly 15 years ago? It’s too early to tell, but Intel is not laying down its sword. In fact, Intel is beating AMD to the punch when it comes to releasing the next generation of processors. Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs are expected to arrive later this year, bringing forth DDR5 memory, PCI Express 5.0, and a new socket.

AMD is set to retaliate next year with the release of Zen 4, which will also require a new socket and thus, a new motherboard. One thing is for sure — there are exciting times ahead when it comes to the CPU market, and the race between AMD and Intel is only going to get more serious.

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Categories
AI

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang to get semiconductor industry’s highest honor

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Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang will receive the chip industry’s highest honor, the Robert N. Noyce Award.

Huang will receive the honor from his peers at the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) annual awards dinner on November 18. The award is named after Intel cofounder Robert Noyce, who is credited with numerous pioneering achievements at the dawn of the chip industry. He was nicknamed the “mayor of Silicon Valley” and known for aphorisms like, “Don’t be encumbered by the past. Go out and do something wonderful.” Noyce passed away in 1990.

The award recognizes a leader who has made outstanding contributions to the semiconductor industry in technology or public policy.

SIA president and CEO John Neuffer said in a statement that Huang’s extraordinary vision and tireless execution have greatly strengthened the chip industry, revolutionized computing, and advanced artificial intelligence. He said Huang’s accomplishments have fueled countless innovations — from gaming to scientific computing to self-driving cars — and he continues to advance technologies that will transform the industry and the world.

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CEO Jensen Huang shows off GeForce RTX 3000 series graphics cards.

Above: CEO Jensen Huang shows off GeForce RTX 3000 series graphics cards.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Huang founded Nvidia in 1993 and has served as CEO since its inception. Starting out in 3D graphics, Huang showed me a demo of the company’s graphics chip and its “Windows accelerator” application. That was when I was at the San Jose Mercury News in 1995, and it was Huang’s first interview with the press.

Nvidia went on to help build the 3D gaming market into the world’s largest entertainment industry. More recently, Nvidia tapped the parallel processing it used for its graphics processing units (GPUs) to do non-graphics compute tasks. That turned into a huge application in AI, where Nvidia’s chips are becoming the brains of computers, robots, and self-driving cars.

In the over 25 years since the company’s first chip, scene complexity in computer graphics has increased around 500 million times, Huang said. Moore’s Law, which predicts chip performance will double every couple of years, would have increased only 100,000 times in the same period if unaided by better chip design.

That relentless innovation has paid off. Nvidia is now worth $490 billion on the stock market and employs 20,000 people.

On to the metaverse

Jensen Huang is CEO of Nvidia. He gave a virtual keynote at the recent GTC event.

Above: Jensen Huang is CEO of Nvidia. He gave a virtual keynote at the recent GTC event.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Huang is also a fan of the intersection between science fiction and technology and has recently been talking more about the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.

Huang is a recipient of the IEEE Founder’s Medal; the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award; and honorary doctorate degrees from Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University, National Taiwan University, and Oregon State University. In 2019, Harvard Business Review ranked him No. 1 on its list of the world’s 100 best-performing CEOs over the lifetime of their tenure. In 2017, he was named Fortune‘s Businessperson of the Year.

Prior to founding Nvidia, Huang worked at LSI Logic and Advanced Micro Devices. He holds a BSEE degree from Oregon State University and an MSEE degree from Stanford University.

Last year, the Noyce award went to Lisa Su, CEO of rival Advanced Micro Devices. She mentioned to me once that Huang is actually a distant relative of hers.

Jensen Huang in his early years as an engineer.

Above: Jensen Huang in his early years as an engineer.

Image Credit: Nvidia/CIE

“I am honored to receive the 2021 Noyce Award and do so on behalf of my colleagues at Nvidia, whose body of work this award recognizes,” Huang said. “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. 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.”

He recently received a distinguished lifetime achievement award by the Asian American Engineer of the Year from the Chinese Institute of Engineers (CIE) group. Huang pointed out he was “destined to be an engineer,” as his father was an engineer in Taiwan. His brothers were engineers, and his wife, Lori, whom he met as a sophomore at Oregon State University, is also an engineer.

In his acceptance speech for the CIE award, Huang made a rare comment beyond Nvidia’s business matters, noting the scourge of recent anti-Asian violence: “Racism is one flywheel we must stop.”

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