Discover more from Liberty’s Highlights
258: Nvidia + Intel Foundry?, Constellation Software Podcast, Youtube, Trillion Transistors, Global Film & TV Market, Canada Gigafactory, and Immortal Nuclear
"I wish I were kidding."
Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.
🚨🎧🚨 Yesterday, I recorded a 1.5-hour podcast about Constellation Software with my friend MBI (💎🐕).
It will be released early next week (aiming for Monday — it has taken about 5 hours to record and edit so far, so not a small project). It will go out to paid supporters of the newsletter first, as a little “thank you for the support” (💚 🥃).
A few days later it will go out to everyone else.
Update: Here is the podcast.
If you were sitting on the fence, waiting for one more thing to nudge you over, this is a great time to become a supporter. Merci!
🤔 Thinking about Nvidia’s new 80-billion-transistor-Hopper made me wonder which one will be the first trillion-transistor-chip, and how long until it comes out…
Then I remembered about Cerebras’ wafer-scale monster:
Ok, 2.6 *trillion* transistors is *legit*.
But it’s not exactly a mainstream chip… So let me rephrase: I wonder when non-exotic, fits-in-a-laptop, non-dinner-plate-sized chips with a trillion transistors will come out…
📚 I bought two new ‘Warrior Kid’ books. I feel a bit like I’m putting Jocko’s kids through college, but my son and I are getting so much value out of his books, they’re a real bargain:
🎤 💡 ⏺ After recording with MBI, I thought about how Zoom is used to record so many podcasts, and how it could be made better for that.
So here’s a free idea for the Zoom team to improve sound quality by removing audio artifacts from packet loss, latency, jitter, etc, which we all hear once in a while on otherwise great-sounding podcasts.
When you’re speaking to someone *real-time*, there’s only so much the software can do to compensate for problems with the audio stream. It can try to fail gracefully when it’s missing some information so it doesn’t sound too bad, but if you’re missing enough bits, it’s going to be audible.
But on the *recording*, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have pristine sound.
You just need to have both sides automatically record locally when in “record” mode, and at the end, either have the other person’s Zoom send you their local audio file, which would work, but take more bandwidth and time, or you can have the software detect audio problems as they happen and timestamp them, and at the end make requests to backfill only these timestamps with the correct data that was recorded locally over there.
Basically, I press “record”, it sends a signal to both people’s Zoom software to record the audio locally, and at the end, my Zoom says “Ok, I had issues at timestamps X, Y, and Z, please send me N seconds of audio centered on these locations so I can overdub the corrupted parts of my file”.
Voilà, perfect podcast audio over Zoom without needing to have both sides manually record and share files!
🥓 I think I may have to start cooking bacon in the oven 🤔
💚 🥃 Random thought: I pictured what a crowd we’d be if all the supporters of this newsletter were gathered together in the same place.
Imagining this made me feel overwhelmed with gratitude.
Thank you for your support, it means a lot 🧡
If you haven’t made the jump to paid support yet, come on over, the water’s nice 🏖👙
Liberty’s Highlights is reader-supported. To support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. 🐙
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Investing & Business
Nvidia in talks with Intel Foundry
Our strategy is to expand our supply base with diversity and redundancy at every single layer. At the chip layer, at the substrate layer, the system layer, at every single layer. We've diversified the number of nodes, we've diversified the number of foundries, and intel is an excellent partner of ours […]. They're interested in us using their foundries, and we're very interested in exploring it
What makes TSMC (🇹🇼) special:
Being a foundry at the caliber of TSMC is not for the faint of heart, this is a change not just in process technology and investment of capital, but it is a change in culture, from a product-oriented company to a product, technology and service-oriented company.
A service-oriented company that dances with your operations. TSMC is a services company that dances with, what, 300 companies worldwide? Our own operations are quite an orchestra, and yet they dance with us. And then there's another orchestra they dance with. So the ability to dance with all of these operations teams and supply chains teams is not for the faint of heart, and TSMC does it just beautifully. Its management, its culture, and its core values, and you put that on top of technology and products.
I am encouraged by the work that is done at Intel, I think this is a direction they have to go, and we're interested in looking at their process technology. Our relationship with Intel is quite long, we work with them across a whole lot of different areas, every single PC, every single laptop, every single PC, supercomputer, we collaborate.
But even if it happens, it wouldn’t be overnight:
Foundry discussions take a long time, and it's not just about desire. We have to align technology, the business models have to be aligned, the capacity has to be aligned, the operations process and the nature of the two companies have to be aligned. It takes a fair amount of time, and a lot of deep, deep discussion – we're not buying milk here. This is really about the integration of the supply chains. Our partnerships with TSMC and Samsung in the last several years are something that took years to cultivate. So we are very open-minded to considering Intel, and I'm delighted by the efforts that they're making.
Is Jensen worried about sharing secrets with Intel, since they increasingly compete with each other (Intel is going deeper into GPUs)?
It’s coopetition all the way down:
We have been working closely with Intel, sharing with them our roadmap long before we share it with the public, for years. Intel has known our secrets for years. AMD has known our secrets for years. We are sophisticated and mature enough to realize that we have to collaborate. [...] We share roadmaps, of course, under confidentiality and a very selective channel of communications. The industry has just learned how to work in that way.
On one hand, we compete with many companies, we also partner deeply with them and rely on them. As I mentioned, if not for AMD CPUs in DGX, we couldn't ship DGX, if not for Intel CPUs and all of the hyperscalers connected to our HGX, we wouldn't be able to ship HGX. If not for Intel's CPUs in our Omniverse computers that are coming up, we wouldn’t be able to do the digital twin simulations that rely so deeply on single-threaded performance that they're really good at.
The Blessing & the Curse of Long-Term Thinking, Hardwood Floor Edition
Ok, the specific example is a bit strange, but the underlying principle is very true:
When I notice a new scratch on our hardwood floor, I think I react more than my wife partly because I immediately think “oh, it’s the fifth scratch in this general area since we’ve moved here two years ago, if we don’t change anything we’ll have something like 25 scratches here in a decade, that sucks” while she goes “meh, one scratch doesn’t matter, what can you do? it happens ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”.
Her approach is healthier, but mine is hard to turn off. I don’t know if it’s been ingrained in me from years of investing or it’s how I was wired from birth, but it’s persistent…
🔍 🗞 Business Model for Journalism 📰 🕵️♀️
CNBC on BuzzFeed:
Several large shareholders have urged BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti to shut down the company’s news organization.
BuzzFeed News has won awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, but is now shrinking through voluntary buyouts.
BuzzFeed News has about 100 employees and loses roughly $10 million a year, according to people familiar with the matter.
I wonder if we'll ever find a business model for fact-finding/investigative journalism. Or maybe the word I’m looking for is “reporting”?
We definitely need more reporters scouring the Earth and turning over every rock… Can you imagine how many important stories — possibly world-changing ones — fly under the radar and are never made public?
There's plenty of analysis & opinion, but we need people who can spend weeks or months reporting a single story, developing sources over years, traveling to war zones and natural catastrophes, dig into government filings, etc.
It’s very hard to imagine that this stuff will have a good ROI except for a few of the very large ‘Schelling point’ news organizations, but we can’t have all our eggs in those baskets, in large part because they have their own blind spots.
We need more billionaires to set up very large non-profit foundations dedicated to hiring hundreds of reporters, investigative journalists, and war correspondents… I think the impact on the world could be as high as many other more popular philanthropic targets (healthcare, education, environment).
(btw, never been a fan of Buzzfeed's content generally, but it was hailed as a model of how to pay for journalism. Guess that's not panning out...)
📺 ‘Global Theatrical, Home/Mobile Entertainment and Pay TV Market’ 📽🍿
🎬 Youtube making 4,000 Episodes of TV free-with-ads
US viewers for the first time will be able to watch full seasons of TV shows on YouTube for free with ads. Now you can stream nearly 4,000 episodes of your favorite TV shows, including Hell’s Kitchen, Andromeda, Heartland and more.
There’s also movies:
YouTube also has over 1,500 movies from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, FilmRise, and more. New titles in March include Gone in Sixty Seconds, Runaway Bride and Legally Blonde, which are now available to stream for free with ads. (Source)
🇨🇦 Canada’s EV battery ‘gigafactory’?
The first large-scale electric vehicle battery plant in Canada will be built in Windsor, Ont., a C$5.1-billion joint venture between global auto giant Stellantis NV and South Korea’s LG Energy Solution
Experts say it is the single largest investment in the country’s auto sector since at least the 1980s [...]
the new plant, expected to be open in 2025, will “position Canada as a global leader in the EV manufacturing supply chain,” providing batteries electric cars made in Stellantis’s auto plant in Windsor and other plants across North America. It says the plant will create 2,500 jobs. [...]
Ottawa’s target is to see 100 per cent zero-emission vehicle sales in Canada by 2035, as part of the country’s climate-change pledge to hit net-zero emissions overall by 2050. (Source)
💰💰💰💰’Wall Street bonuses climb to record $257,500 per worker last year’ 💰💰💰💰
The average bonus paid to securities industry employees in New York climbed 20% to a record $257,500 for last year [...]
Wall Street workers make almost five times the $92,315 average salary in the private sector excluding finance, according to the report. Securities workers saw overall compensation climb 7.7% to $438,370 for 2020, the latest data the comptroller had.
There were 180,000 workers in New York’s securities industry in 2021, roughly unchanged from the previous year but 10% below its peak twenty years ago (Source)
That’s a lot of moolah 🌾
🔗 Stop calling it a “supply chain”… 🪢
Science & Technology
Bet you didn’t know it was possible to do a 30-minute documentary on the ‘Jerry Can’!
So many interesting design elements on this seemingly simple piece of technology, and so many historical implications.
⛵️“Nuclear power plants are immortal”, Ship of Theseus Edition
This is one of the best podcasts episodes that I’ve heard lately.
Mark Nelson is just spitting 🔥 all over the place, with some great insights on how different countries approach nuclear, which ones are having successes, which ones made terrible mistakes and why, etc.
Love his idea of looking at nuclear power plants as ‘Ships of Theseus’, where the age of the plant may be X number of years, but if every piece has been replaced (possibly multiple times), then what is the real age of the plant, and why couldn’t it be kept going as long as it is operating well and safely?
His riff about how France’s nuclear fleet 🇫🇷 has basically been more successful than the politicians want, so they’re doing everything they can to keep the reactors running as little as possible and producing as little electricity as possible because it would crash prices on electricity markets for other sources that they want to support. Also doing everything they can to shut down plants at the drop of a hat. I had no idea about some of these shenanigans 😡
Here’s part of the transcript on this, I’m not making it up. It’s a long excerpt, but it’s worth it:
countries like Germany, who operate nuclear plants extremely well keep shutting them down. But a big part of it right now is because of countries that don't operate nuclear plants very well keep losing them to unplanned outages. So that brings us to France. France, has an electricity fleet, that with French collaboration is constantly under siege from the rest of Europe. Why? Because it's too good. It's like a cheat code in a video game. It just puts out a truckload of energy and was already built and keeps lasting. And it's just it makes it makes an entire type of Think Tank and economist utterly obsolete. [...]
let's just say that the nuclear fleet of France working at full capacity would probably I agree, destroy the European energy market the way it exists, in which case I say fine. Redesign the energy market to suit the fact that that France built for whatever reason, 63 gigawatts of nuclear power that assuming it's managed better than the French do should be putting out a colossal quantity of electricity. We're talking 500 terawatt hours rather than the 350 or 360 or 370 terawatt hours is going to put out this year [...]
things are operated differently in France, where the where the goal of French energy policy has been minimizing the uptime of reactors. I wish I were kidding. For about it for about, you know, since about 2015, the, like placed in law, centerpiece of French energy strategy, was making sure the reactors did not put out too much energy. That was enshrined at the center, French law, not having too much clean energy from already built and paid for publicly on nuclear…
There was a market for that electricity, [it’s just that] the market would have rewarded the nuclear too much. And it would have sunk the price of, of that type of electricity in all of Europe. And you would have kept building more and more wires to the rest of Europe, or you would have needed to rapidly electrify the economy and have a lot of electric cars and heat pump.
Wait, doesn't that exactly sound like the goals that the energy experts are telling us? We're supposed to do? Right?
So you had a situation where the central goal of European energy policy, which is who the hell knows what we're going to do, but get rid of the nuclear plants that trickled down to the French who had most of the nuclear plants, the French heard the lesson, which was get rid of our nuclear plants, and they did it at the same time is trying to figure out how to electrify everything to get onto the grid.
☢️ Nuclear Roundup ☢️
I don’t want to spend a ton of space on these items, but I think they’re kind of cool:
🇧🇪 “Belgium's federal government has decided to allow Doel 4 and Tihange 3 to continue operating until 2035 in order to allow the country to "strengthen its independence of fossil fuels in turbulent geopolitical times". The coalition government had earlier agreed to phase out the use of nuclear energy by 2025.”
🇨🇦 Canada investing in micro-reactor tech: “The Canadian government is to invest CAD$27.2m (USD$21.6m) in Westinghouse Electric Canada to support its next-generation eVinci microreactor. This is the third investment in small modular reactor (SMR) technology”
🇳🇬 Nigeria trying to build new capacity: “Nigeria is trying to deliver 4000 MW of electricity through nuclear power. We are planning to construct four units and currently we are at the bidding phase […] The country had been seeking to diversify its energy mix since the 1970s… the extra 4000 MW would increase Nigeria’s generating capacity to about 13,000 MW.”
The Arts & History
‘Why Dune's editing feels different’
It’s been a while since I posted Dune content, but it doesn’t mean I’m done with it!
I enjoyed this video, which is largely based on this interview of Joe Walker, Dune’s editor, about Dune’s editing techniques and rhythms.
The concept of the ‘continuity of information’, which is more abstract than chronological continuity, is quite interesting.