Sparkles in the Rough: NVIDIA’s Video Gems from a Hardscrabble 2020

Our faves on YouTube in 2020 captured COVID-19, cars, kitchen keynotes, graphics, games, lots of AI and even choirs.
by Rick Merritt

Much of 2020 may look best in the rearview mirror, but the year also held many moments of outstanding work, gems worth hitting the rewind button to see again.

So, here’s a countdown — roughly in order of ascending popularity — of 10 favorite NVIDIA videos that hit YouTube in 2020. With two exceptions for videos that deserve a wide audience, all got at least 200,000 views and most, but not all, can be found on the NVIDIA YouTube channel.

#10 Coronavirus Gets a Close-Up

The pandemic was clearly the story of the year.

We celebrated the work of many healthcare providers and researchers pushing science forward to combat it, including the team that won a prestigious Gordon Bell award for using high performance computing and AI to see how the coronavirus works, something they explained in detail in their own video here.

In another one of the many responses to COVID-19, the Folding@Home project received donations of time on more than 200,000 NVIDIA GPUs to study the coronavirus. Using NVIDIA Omniverse, we created a visualization (described below) of data they amassed on their virtual exascale computer.

#9 Cruising into a Ray-Traced Future

Despite the challenging times, many companies continued to deliver top-notch work. For example, Autodesk VRED 2021 showed the shape of things to come in automotive design.

The demo below displays the power of ray tracing and AI to deliver realistic 3D visualizations in real time using RTX technology, snagging nearly a quarter million views. (Note: There’s no audio on this one, just amazing images.)

#8 A Test Drive in the Latest Mercedes

Just for fun — yes, even 2020 included fun — we look back at NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang taking a spin in the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class as part of the world premiere of the flagship sedan. He shared the honors with Grammy award-winning Alicia Keys and Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton.

The S-Class uses AI to deliver intelligent features like a voice assistant personalized for each driver. An engineer and a car enthusiast at heart, Huang gave kudos to the work of hundreds of engineers who delivered a vehicle that with over-the-air software updates will get better and better.

#7 Playing Marbles After Dark

The NVIDIA Omniverse team pointed the way to a future of photorealistic games and simulations rendered in real time. They showed how a distributed team of engineers and artists can integrate multiple tools to play more than a million polygons smoothly with ray-traced lighting at 1440p on a single GeForce RTX 3090.

The mesmerizing video captured the eyeballs of nearly half a million viewers.

#6 An AI Platform for the Rest of Us

Great things sometimes come in small packages. In October, we debuted the DGX Station A100, a supercomputer that plugs into a standard wall socket to let data scientists do world-class work in AI. More than 400,000 folks tuned in.

#5 Seeing Virtual Meetings Through a New AI

With online gatherings the new norm, NVIDIA Maxine attracted a lot of eyeballs. More than 800,000 viewers tuned into this demo of how we’re using generative adversarial networks to lower the bandwidth and turn up the quality of video conferencing.

#4 What’s Jensen Been Cooking?

Our most energy-efficient video of 2020 was a bit of a tease. It lasted less than 30 seconds, but Jensen Huang’s preview of the first NVIDIA Ampere architecture GPU drew nearly a million viewers.

#3 Voila, Jensen Whips Up the First Kitchen Keynote

In the days of the Great Depression, vacuum tubes flickered with fireside chats. The 2020 pandemic spawned a slew of digital events with GTC among the first of them.

In May, Jensen recorded in his California home the first kitchen keynote. In a playlist of nine virtual courses, he served a smorgasbord where the NVIDIA A100 GPU was an entrée surrounded by software side dishes that included frameworks for conversational AI (Jarvis — since renamed Riva) and recommendation systems (Merlin). The first chapter alone attracted more than 300,000 views.

And we did it all again in October when we featured the first DPU, its DOCA software and a framework to accelerate drug discovery.

#2 Delivering Enterprise AI in a Box

The DGX A100 emerged as one of the favorite dishes from our May kitchen keynote. The 5-petaflops system packs AI training, inference and analytics for any data center.

Some 1.3 million viewers clicked to get a virtual tour of the eight A100 GPUs and 200 Gbit/second InfiniBand links inside it.

#1 Enough of All This Hard Work, Let’s Have Fun!

By September it was high time to break away from a porcupine of a year. With the GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs, we rolled out engines to create lush new worlds for those whose go-to escape is gaming.

The launch video, viewed more than 1.5 million times, begins with a brief tour of the history of computer games. Good days remembered, good days to come.

For Dessert: Two Bytes of Chocolate

We’ll end 2020, happily, with two special mentions.

Our most watched video of the year was a blistering five-minute clip of game play on DOOM Eternal running all out on a GeForce RTX 3080 in 4K.

And perhaps our sweetest feel good moment of 2020 was delivered by an NVIDIA engineer, Bryce Denney, who hacked a way to let choirs sing together safely in the pandemic. Play it again, Bryce!