Thursday, January 24, 2019

Nvidia CEO Huang explains how AI Changes Everything (NVDA)

The writer of this piece, Tiernan Ray, has an uncanny ability to get Nvidia's Mr. Huang to answer questions. We noticed he was doing this when he ran Barron's Tech Trader Daily after Eric Savitz left, big shoes to fill but he pulled it off with a narrower but deeper focus than Savitz used.
Now he's at ZD Net.

In a turnabout-is-fair-play move, NVDA is riding XLNX's coattails today, up  5.00% (+$7.47) at $156.76 (vs XLNX - up 19.35%)

From ZD Net:
Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of computer graphics chip maker Nvidia, showed off the achievements of his company’s neural network technology during a press conference Sunday night in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show. He argues that a combination of deep learning and ray tracing, the simulation of real-world physics, is going to totally transform the computer graphics business.

Nvidia's chief executive, Jensen Huang, took to the stage of the ballroom at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas on Sunday night, the opening night of the Consumer Electronics Show, to tell those assembled that AI, especially deep learning, is fundamentally changing his company's business of creating lifelike computer graphics.

The traditional graphics pipeline is yielding to neural network approaches, accelerated by newer on-chip circuitry, so that physics simulation and sampling of real-world details are taking over from the traditional practice of painting polygons on the screen to simulate objects and their environment. 
Huang pointed to how primitive a lot of graphics still looks, saying that "in the last 15 years, technology has evolved tremendously, but it still looks largely like a cartoon."

At the core of computer graphics today is the process of rasterization, whereby objects are rendered as collections or triangles. It's a struggle to convincingly employ rasters for complex nuances of light and shadow, Huang noted.

Three things, he said, are missing: "Reflections aren't right, shadows aren't right, and refractions are really hard to do," said Huang. To remedy that, one technology the company is pushing is ray tracing, where the computer models the physics of photons interacting with the world. 

"It's hard to simulate the effects of light from geometry," meaning, trying to "paint" light onto all the raster triangles, said Huang. Trying to "bake" the light into those triangles hasn't worked that well despite ingenious attempts. Instead, "you have to start from the light, tracing light from your eyes into the world." That ray tracing technology has been around for decades but it has not been fast enough to create light effects in real time. "It took ten years to figure out how to do ray tracing fast enough," said Huang, "and it wouldn't have been possible without deep learning."

To make ray tracing render stunning effects such as umbra and penumbra, the nuances of shadows, and reflections on glass and in water, the workload is split between the physics model and a neural network approach that the company calls "deep learning super sample, or "DLSS." Nvidia has said the approach uses an autoencoder style of neural network to infer sixty-four samples per pixel in every pixel of every image in a training set of rendered images. By performing this sampling, the network learns a way to apply superior anti-aliasing to images.....MUCH MORE 
 Earlier today:
Watch Out Nvidia, Xilinx Is Performing (reports, beats, pops) XLNX; NVDA