Chip giant Nvidia expands R&D operations in Israel

US firm, which completed acquisition of Israel’s Mellanox Technologies in 2020, to set up new CPU team

Ricky Ben-David is a Times of Israel editor and reporter

An Nvidia building in Israel. (Nvidia)
An Nvidia building in Israel. (Nvidia)

US gaming and computer graphics giant Nvidia, which completed the acquisition of Israel’s Mellanox Technologies Ltd. in 2020 for a massive $7 billion, announced that it is further expanding its R&D operations in Israel.

The company said Tuesday that it was establishing a new design and engineering group that will lead the development of next-generation CPUs (central processing units) geared toward artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and Nvidia’s new platform Omniverse, which allows for virtual world simulations.

The US firm, founded in 1993 by Jensen Huang, Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem as a graphics chip company, inventing the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), is today a leader in the field of artificial intelligence.

In Israel, Nvidia will be hiring additional engineers over the coming months to fill positions in hardware, software, architecture, and other engineering roles, the company said Tuesday.

“Israel, with its unique wealth of talent, is a key player in the global tech ecosystem, and we are excited to be creating a new CPU group here,” said Michael Kagan, Nvidia’s chief technology officer in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to further growing our local R&D activities both in this area and in our extensive work supporting the local ecosystem through unique programs for startups and developers,” he added in reference to the Nvidia Inception Program for Startups, which already includes over 300 Israeli companies, and the Nvidia Developer Program, which allows free access to Nvidia’s offerings for developers.

The new CPU group will join a variety of teams currently active in Israel, working on high-speed networking and HPC technologies, Nvidia’s DPU (Data Processing Unit) development, AI research and other activities.

In November, Nvidia unveiled a range of new partnerships and products, some developed in Israel, further highlighting the country’s growing role in the organization.

Nvidia’s R&D activities in Israel are already the firm’s largest outside of the US.

The announcement of the new CPU team comes less than a year since Nvidia said it was looking to hire 600 hardware and software engineers and chip designers at a variety of levels in Israel to work on its AI-based technologies.

Since its acquisition of Mellanox, a maker of high-speed servers and storage switching solutions used in supercomputers globally, the firm now employs over 2,400 workers in Israel in seven R&D centers, from Yokne’am, the HQ of Mellanox, to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ra’anana, and Beersheba in the south.

Nvidia, with a market cap of $671 billion on the Nasdaq compared to $226.53 billion for competitor Intel Corp., has replaced the latter as the largest US chip maker, and the second largest in the world, after Taiwan’s TSMC.

Both Nvidia and Intel have R&D centers in Israel and compete for the same pool of talent. This competition is set to become even stiffer, as Google enters the fray. The US search engine giant said last year that it was setting up a chip-making team led by a former Intel Israel executive.

Nvidia has been active in Israel for the past decade, both selling its processors locally, buying stakes in startups like Zebra Medical, Deep Instinct, and Rocketrick, and setting up its R&D units.

Shoshanna Solomon contributed to this report.

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