India’s AI development crucial for global markets: Nvidia CEO Huang

  • Huang highlighted the transformative impact of the country's 10,000-GPU initiative on accelerating AI development and adoption

Shouvik Das
Published20 Mar 2024, 06:39 PM IST
Jensen Huang, chief executive, Nvidia.
Jensen Huang, chief executive, Nvidia.

San Jose: Nvidia's chief executive Jensen Huang, on Tuesday, expressed significant interest in participating in India's ambitious plan to establish a 10,000-GPU processing cluster for indigenous artificial intelligence computing requirements.

This initiative not only presents Nvidia with an opportunity to tap into India's rapidly growing market, but also highlights the government's commitment to upskilling the country's tech workforce, he said.

Huang also emphasized the government's clear vision of positioning India as a center for value creation rather than merely being "the back room for global firms”.

“AI is used across engineering, marketing, sales, finance, business operations, strategies and more—all of this is the front office. And, India is looking to be a part of the front office here,” Huang said during a press interaction, a day after Nvidia unveiled its latest graphic processing unit, Blackwell, designed to meet the increasing AI processing demand globally.

In a bid to counter GPU supply constraints and mitigate the steep acquisition costs, the Indian government on 7 March approved the allocation of 10,372-crore ($1.2 billion) for several key initiatives, such as the development of domain-specific AI models, and establishing and maintaining an open-source dataset covering all 22 official Indic languages.

The Centre is also planning to establish a public-private partnership (PPP) for AI computing, granting access to 10,000 GPUs for domestic research, academia, enterprises, and startups.

Getting domestic AI development right could propel India's rise to prominence in the global technology market, Huang said. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi told me that India should not export flour to import bread—this makes perfect sense. Why export raw material, only to import the value-added product? Why export India’s data, only to import AI?”

Data, hailed by many as the currency of the modern world, is crucial for training AI models, with GPUs playing a vital role in the infrastructure. And, India's emergence as a market of global significance is driven by its substantial volumes of data. 

According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai)’s latest subscriber report on 22 February, India has more than 900 million broadband users, underscoring the vast data reservoir that could fuel the world's AI demands.

In April 2023, Mint reported that applied research projects at top engineering institutes, which relied on indigenously-developed AI models, faced widespread challenges due to inadequate AI computing infrastructure, and a shortage of funds to procure additional GPUs.

Nvidia's valuation has soared over 300% in a year, surpassing $2 trillion on 23 February. Currently, it ranks as the world's third-most valuable company, with its GPUs struggling to meet soaring global demand.

In India, several companies have already partnered Nvidia to harness its AI-specific GPUs. Mumbai-headquartered Tata Communications is collaborating with the firm to establish a cloud platform for AI services. 

Yotta Infrastructure, a data center provider backed by the Hiranandani Group, has secured an order worth nearly $1 billion for GPU chips. Sunil Gupta, chief executive, confirmed to Mint on Monday that the order will include the new Blackwell chip by October.

Analysts, however, said that the effects of Nvidia's latest GPUs might unfold gradually over the long term. 

“Nvidia’s latest GPU announcement impacts large or extra-large data centre providers. While a few such providers are rapidly expanding their services in India, big investments are yet to be done. We saw one announcement earlier this year to buy GPUs from Nvidia." said Anushree Verma, director analyst for emerging technologies at Gartner. 

"With the advanced GPUs, it will take some time—both to establish the need (for them), and (also gather) resources for this scale of infrastructure investment. I don’t see this impacting India’s market in the near future.”

Hence, while private companies evaluate returns on investments in AI infrastructure, the Centre's AI mission could provide Nvidia with a readily available demand for GPUs to capitalize on.

On 9 March, Mint reported that investing in India’s AI GPU infrastructure could offer global technology majors, including Nvidia, a strategic vantage point—opening up prioritized access to India’s vast AI applications, end-users and enterprise marketplaces. This will be crucial, as Nvidia  seeks to sustain demand and safeguard its growth and market valuation.

The author is in San Jose to attend GTC 2024, on invitation of Nvidia

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First Published:20 Mar 2024, 06:39 PM IST
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