Digital Equipment Corporation

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Video conference

Interview with Norman Jouppi, Distinguished Hardware Engineer at Google. Jouppi provides an overview of the organizational hierarchy at Google and where he fits in, and he surveys the distinctions between applied physics, electrical engineering, and computer science. He recounts his childhood in suburban Chicago and his early interests in computers. He describes his undergraduate education at Northwestern where he pursued his interests in computer architecture. Jouppi discusses his graduate research at Stanford, and he reflects on the early days of startup culture in Silicon Valley. He explains the origins of MIPS and the influence of Jim Clark and John Hennessy and he describes his work for Silicon Graphics and his thesis research in CAD. Jouppi explains his decision to take his first postgraduate position at Digital Equipment Corporation and he describes the importance of VAX computing.  He explains the corporate transition from DEC to Compaq to HP, and he explains the origins internet browsing and the creation of Alta Vista. Jouppi explains the concept of telepresence and he discusses his responsibilities as director of the Advanced Architecture Lab. He explains the interest in exascale computing and his early work in artificial intelligence. Jouppi discusses his involvement in VLSI design and he explains the process that brought him to Google to work on platforms and TPU infrastructure. He reflects on how ML has changed over the years and he describes both the research and collaborative culture that Google promotes, and he explains why quantum computing is a completely different domain of computation. At the end of the interview, Jouppi considers how and when Moore’s Law will end, and he conveys his commitment to advancing technology that has a tangibly net-positive impact on society.