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Mastering the AI Frontier: A Remarkable Journey Spanning Decades, Geographies, and Technologies

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Srinivas Lingam is the vice president, AI Acceleration Office (AAO), reporting directly to Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger. He is also the vice president and general manager, Habana Labs India, Datacenter and AI group (DCAI).

 

From California to Bangalore, from a college geek to an executive leader, Srinivas is an industry veteran and inspiration to many. We recently met him to understand what kept him motivated for more than two decades and his reason to believe in Intel regaining its tech leadership, with India being one of its strategic contributors.

Let’s start from the beginning. “It was 26 years back and I still remember the weight of the crucial decision to choose my first job. My friends and relatives had cautioned me that one’s first job could be a significant driver for one’s career.  A geeky kid, fresh out of college with a passion for technology, I was determined to make my mark on the tech world. So, keeping aside multiple offers in hand, I chose Intel.” We can’t thank him enough for the choice he made.

From Silicon to Systems: Exploring New Technologies and Challenges in Hardware, Software, and AI-Driven Systems

Did the curious college grad ever have the urge to explore career options outside Intel? “Of course! And I did. The number of different technologies, teams and people I have worked with in my career here, honestly makes me feel that I am taking up a new job every 3-4 years. Let me elaborate.

I joined Intel as a CPU design engineer at the Folsom design center in California. The first half of my career was in the U.S. where I was part of the development of several generations of Intel CPU products from Pentium-II to the Core family of microprocessors.

The second half continues in India, as I returned in 2010, realizing the site’s amazing global potential for Intel. I started leading the development of several differentiating IPs like low-power offloading sensing engines and mixed-signal IPs while managing teams across the U.S., Costa Rica, Israel, Malaysia, and India.

As I now lead the Artificial Intelligence Products Group in India, I can tell you that a journey like mine is not singular at Intel. Within my team itself, I have technologists who were hardcore silicon designers, compiler writers in the past and now work on artificial intelligence and natural language processing hardware and software.

Given the wide portfolio of technologies from foundry services to chip design, from networking to software development, for devices ranging from edge to supercomputers, the job challenges and opportunities here are unmatched. So, this kind of career exposure and growth is only possible at Intel.”

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Navigating from an individual contributor to a people leader

“I was an individual contributor (IC) for the entirety of my thirteen-year career in the United States. Intel enables seamless movement of people from being ICs to exploring management roles, or even playing hybrid roles as they seek to identify and fulfill their passion in technology. The experience and knowledge gained during my early career as an IC proved invaluable as I transitioned into a management role, leading the development of the first data center AI inference accelerator solution in India. Now I have team members who thrive in hybrid roles as both technologists and management leaders, showcasing Intel's commitment to empowering individuals to pursue their passion in technology.”

After being a CPU guy for 14 years, Srinivas was given the challenge to drive platform innovations for Intel with Low power-offloading engines like Sensor Hub winning the Intel Achievement award in 2012 and other IP subsystems. Within another few years, he was called upon to a completely different and incredibly exciting opportunity in an emerging space – AI.

Leading the AI revolution from the front with Intel and India

“Over the past 8 years, we have built the Artificial Intelligence Products Group in India and led the organization into a Deep Learning center of excellence with end-to-end hardware and software capabilities, spanning product definition, architecture, design, validation and customer enabling. From a purely data-driven deep learning perspective, Intel is pioneering hybrid approaches combining deep learning with knowledge injection and neuro-symbolic techniques. Being in India at this moment presents a unique opportunity to democratize AI and leverage its potential for real-world impact in our communities. For instance, my team is building state-of-the-art deep learning training, inference accelerators and software/toolchains for these accelerators right here in India.”

Srinivas firmly believes that Intel is at the forefront of the AI revolution, with a strong presence in developing specialized processors for AI training and inference, creating comprehensive AI software stacks, and implementing them across cloud, data center, and edge environments. His team delivered Intel's first data center inference accelerator and won Intel Achievement Award in 2019.

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Democratizing AI in India

“While I'm deeply enthusiastic about the potential of AI and its effects, I acknowledge that technologies are constantly evolving. What truly counts is the tangible impact of these technologies in the real world.”

Srinivas reminded us that India’s COVID-19 vaccination tracking platform ‘CoWin’, which has supported possibly the largest vaccination campaign in history, is powered by Intel processors.

“At Intel India, we are committed to democratizing AI. Take, for instance, our Intel Unnati Program which focuses on upskilling non-computer science students with AI skills in schools and colleges. Through a combination of Labs and curated community initiatives, the program aims to equip students with relevant data-centric skills and grooms them to be industry-ready, providing strategic impetus to India’s digital economic transformation.”

Continuing to steer through highs, lows, and highs

Srinivas' dedication to Intel is rooted in a deep love for the company and its mission. He joined the company in 1997 and has since weathered multiple boom and bust cycles. With each challenge, Srinivas has remained steadfast in his commitment to Intel and the 'Intel core' values that guide the company. What keeps him going?

“One can’t stay in the same company for 26 years without truly loving it! Intel has become an integral part of my life and my extended family. As every family goes, we have experienced our fair share of highs and lows. Despite facing challenges and setbacks as the company navigates through technical and global economic changes, the ‘Intel core’ remains steadfast.”

His success at Intel goes beyond his unwavering dedication. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table, thanks in part to his impressive educational background. Srinivas earned his Master's in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Florida, Gainesville and an MBA from the University of California at Davis. He acknowledges that this combination of technical and business expertise has been invaluable in helping him navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of the tech industry.

Despite Intel's challenges over the years, he remains committed to the company and its future. He sees each downturn as an opportunity to grow stronger and improve personally and professionally. With his education and experience, Srinivas feels well-equipped to lead Intel through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and he's excited to continue his journey with the company for many years to come.

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2 Comments
PrasannaBanavara
Employee

Good to know more about Srinivas... if anyone wants to know about Intel strategy esp. IDM 2.0, Srinivas is the Authority. The Clarity he provides is awesome. Thanks for inspiring us...

Pavan_Kaipa
Employee

You role model ethics, integrity and commitment to the company. It is a great pleassure to work with you, Srinivas. I wish you all the best.