Landing in misty Taipei to cover Computex 2024, the world’s largest computer expo, for the first time, I was ready to file report after report in breathless admiration of the latest consumer tech line-up; but while examining the tantalizingly multi-coloured keyboards with Studio Ghibli characters, I got the notification that Nvidia’s Jensen Huang autographed a woman’s chest somewhere in the conference. 

My first thought was to rush to the booth to see the Nvidia CEO in action. As tech reporters from India, we often miss out on the eccentricities of tech world’s top bosses. Our interactions with them are often measured and politically correct — as if they don’t want to anger the temperamental South Asian tiger too much. 

And Huang made Taipei his own personal stomping ground. From his proclivity for leather jackets in the summer to gimmicky jaunts to night markets we got it all. 

The chip-making CEO is the undisputed rockstar of the tech world right now as advances in artificial intelligence has pushed the demand for Nvidia’s software and hardware to record levels in recent years. At the conference, Huang unveiled Rubin — the company’s latest AI platform, three months after they unveiled Blackwell, its predecessor. He also announced that Nvidia is planning to make chips on a one-year rhythm from hereon. 

Intel’s battle cry

Meanwhile, Intel too made its presence known in the AI stage, echoing its battle cry: “Whatever has been done can be outdone”, rendered in an AI recreation of the now deceased co-founder Gordon Moore. CEO Pat Gelsinger took to the stage with the upcoming Lunar Lake processors taking the spotlight. Taking a dig at Huang, Gelsinger reminded the world that, “Moore’s Law is alive and well.”

Moore’s law is the theory that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every two years, an axiom that has been a benchmark for the semiconductor industry for many years.

In recent years, we are moving towards an asymptote on how far and how fast chip innovation can go. And it seems like Generative AI (Gen AI) has captured the imagination of every other consumer tech companies out there and they are climbing over each other to bring supercomputer-like capabilities to every user’s fingertips. 

Qualcomm, which was famously short-changed by Apple, has recently seen a resurgence in stock price on the back of GenAI — it took a dig at Apple while pitching the next generation of AI-led PCs, indicating that the age of the Macbook is over. And that is the key takeaway from the expo for me — breakneck innovation in the consumer tech world is alive and well, and AI is behind most of it. Microsoft also unveiled a new line-up of Copilot+ PCs at the expo, only three months after releasing two new AI PCs. 

All in all, the tech industry is messy, alive and well. The hype and the cult fanaticism it builds for the powerbrokers of this world won’t go anywhere anytime soon. As a consumer, I sit here making sense of the spate of launches that are coming my way, worried that my next investment in tech will become outdated in mere months. And as India ventures to build on its own chip dreams, I wonder if we will have our own eccentric Jensen Huang anytime soon. 

(The writer attended Computex 2024 in Taiwan, at the invitation of Asus)