The global AI chip industry has recently been captivated by the revelation that the chief executives of Nvidia (NVDA) and AMD (AMD), two of the leading players in the sector, share a familial connection. This unexpected familial tie between Jensen Huang and Lisa Su has drawn attention and sparked discussions within the industry and the public sphere alike.
Renowned Taiwanese genealogist Jean Wu shed light on the bond, identifying Huang as Su’s “biao jiu,” meaning first cousin once removed in Mandarin Chinese, which refers to cousins separated by a generation. Wu conducted extensive research, delving into public records, news archives, and interviews with a close family member of Huang’s to establish this relationship.
Parallel trajectories in the semiconductor industry
Despite their familial ties, the two industry titans did not grow up together, paving the way for their individual successes in the competitive landscape of the semiconductor industry. Both born in Taiwan, they pursued parallel paths, each displaying a keen interest in electrical engineering. Su pursued her studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while Huang attended Oregon State University and Stanford University. Their careers led them to cross paths at various stages, including a shared stint at AMD before they ventured into their respective leadership roles.
Now leading their respective companies in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, Huang and Su oversee the operations of Nvidia and AMD, both of which boast a significant presence in the ever-expanding global tech market. Their firms not only cater to leading tech giants worldwide but also compete head-to-head in the high-stakes arenas of gaming and data center solutions. This fierce competition extends to the cutting-edge technology sector, with their graphics processing units (GPUs) finding applications in the realms of artificial intelligence and generative AI systems, such as ChatGPT.
Striking a balance between competition and collaboration
While the competitive landscape in the semiconductor industry remains intense, both Huang and Su have emphasized the necessity of collaboration amidst the competition. Recognizing the vital role played by their respective companies in driving technological advancements, they acknowledge the significance of occasional partnerships in pushing the industry forward.
Geopolitical challenges and future prospects
Despite their shared family ties, the two CEOs must navigate the intricate geopolitical landscape, which poses significant challenges to their companies’ operations. Recent export controls and restrictions imposed by the United States have caused ripples in the industry, prompting both Nvidia and AMD to strategize their approaches to international markets.
In light of the dynamic nature of the industry and the evolving geopolitical tensions, the familial connection between Huang and Su remains a fascinating aspect that underlines the intertwined nature of the semiconductor sector and the global tech industry at large. With their shared heritage and competitive spirit, both leaders continue to spearhead innovation and technological progress in the ever-evolving world of chips and AI.