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Looking forward - To the GTC conference

Posted: 03.29.16

Every year now for the past seven years Nvidia has presented a GPU conference. The first on in Late September 2008was named the GPU Technology Conference, and it overwhelmed the Fairmont hotel, and prompting the company to rename it GTC and move it to the convention center. This year the focus will be on AI, VR, and self-driving cars.

The conference is spectacular to say the least, and a bit overwhelming. Overwhelming in that there is more to see and hear than can physically be accomplished (thank god for web replays). CUDA development was one of the driving force originally, and scientific programming still occupies a large swath of the conference, some really heavy duty geeky HPC and neural net programming talks that have fascinating titles and content only Ph.ds in CS can fully understand, but I go anyway because it makes me feel smart just to be allowed to sit in the audience.

If you had any doubts about cars driving themselves, talking to each other and street lights while they do, forget it. At GTC you will find out more about advance automotive concepts, and actual case studies than you could imagine. In fact, I think Nvidia should start a separate conference just on automotive, they are such a leader in the field.

One of the hot topics, and sure to be oversubscribed tracks this year will be AR, VR, there will be no less than 35 session spread over three days, plus four tutorials and a VR hangout session of Q&A, and the always interesting posters.

The keynotes are always a big hit, and this year Nvidia has attracted sone super superstars to share their ideas and visions with us. Wednesday morning, IBM’s (Watson) CTO, VP, and fellow, Rob High will share some stories about things Watson has done, and more interestingly, what it’s going to do—this is must see event.

Rob High is an IBM Fellow, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Watson Solutions, IBM Software Group. He has overall responsibility to drive Watson Solutions technical strategy and thought leadership. As a key member of the Watson Solutions Leadership team, Rob works collaboratively with the Watson engineering, research, and development teams across IBM.

And then Thursday morning, Gill Pratt, none other than the CEO, Toyota’s Research Institute will lift the curtain a bit and let us see what’s been going on in Toyota’s human/machine labs where they are working on collaboration, mechanisms and control methods for enhanced mobility and manipulation. It’s going to be interesting, and maybe just a little scarry.

Oh, yeah, and on Tuesday morning old what’s his name is going to tell us about what Nvidia did last year and will be doing next year or two. If you’ve never seen a Jen-Hsun keynote, give yourself a treat and catch this one.

My passion of course if graphics and pixels and I can find plenty of both at GTC, in fact more than I can absorb at a single sitting— it literally takes me weeks to fully digest all the new concepts presented, as well as the new products in the exhibit hall. I used to think Siggraph was overwhelming, GTC is on par with it.

And then there’s the weird and wonderful. You never really know what to expect at GTC, a robot that smiles at you and says, how are you feeling, a lamp that turns on and changes color depending upon what it thinks your mood and needs are. A gaming PC that looks like something out of StarWars (and actually may be), and the biggest, baddest gaming laptops, imaginable.
And of course, I will learn all about Nvidia’s latest GPUs, Pascal will of course be the headliner this year.

I’m also amused and surprised by the clothing section, and delighted by the book store (and not just because they featured my book one year).

And then there are the people. Again, like Siggraph, I see so many friends at GTC, that alone would be worth the effort to go. Sometimes it’s the only chance I get to see some of my favorite people. In addition, I get to meet new people, and honestly, they are folks I might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet.

So I’m in training now, learning how to live on 4 hours’ sleep, drinking lots of water, taking long, long walks, and stuffing business cards into every pocket I have. I’ll be ready by April 4th to take on GTC.

PS - And if you need to catch up on your sleep, you can come to my discussion on Ray Tracing Wednesday morning at 10:30.