Warning: the rest of this post will read like an HR/marketing recruiting presentation.
This place is amazing. First of all, it's Silicon Valley, so the weather is pretty much permanently nice. The NVIDIA campus is fairly compact, consisting of 6 buildings. There's a cafeteria, which is quite good and seems to have a solid variety. The food isn't free, but everybody gets a $5/meal credit (excluding breakfast, I think). I eat lunch for about $0.50 a day. I may start having dinner more often here too. The food services are run by Aramark, who I happen to like. (They were running the food services at school as well.) There's actually a bus that goes direct from my place to NVIDIA and back, but the latest bus in the morning leaves at 7:30 and arrives at 7:45, and in the evening leaves at 5:30 and arrives at 5:45. These are, of course, not natural times of day for an engineer, and nobody is around when I come in. I will be obtaining a car shortly, though that has been a huge headache. More on that some other time.
The culture is very much a relaxed, open environment, much like Microsoft was. Of particular interest is that there are no offices here. (Everybody at MS has an office except for some of the HR people.) Everybody has a cubicle. I'm told the CEO merely has a wall and a table. I don't mind it, except that with an office you can use speakers for music, which doesn't really work in a cube farm. I'm sharing my cube with another intern, but I believe all the full time guys get their own. I have two machines, an XP machine where I work and a Vista machine where stuff actually runs. I remote debug the Vista machine from the XP machine. There's a phone too, not that I ever use it.
Then of course there's the engineering. There's a particular dedication to care and quality here. Everyone strives to do their job and do it well. That's been emphasized over and over, and it's clearly quite fundamental to everything that happens here. Apart from that, I've had the privilege of seeing the details of how the hardware and drivers work, which has been extremely enlightening, even though I've just scratched the surface. Naturally I can't really talk about it. It's really quite stunning though, how beautifully well done the unified driver is. It's not simple, and it's not hack free, and it's not small. Still, the immense challenge it handles is just incredible. It's a single codebase that works across at least nine operating systems, with every GeForce NVIDIA has ever made (which is probably a couple dozen), and with all the versions of OpenGL and Direct3D over the years.
The interns are treated like any new hire here. That means I'm doing real work -- in particular, fixing the performance of a rather high profile game on Vista. Of course, it also means no hand holding. There are no tutorials here people. I have several million lines of code, and a bunch of architectural documentation. Doesn't bother me, but I and the other interns are all expected to take our bugs and figure out what's going on with relatively little guidance. There's a vast number of in house tools for doing all sorts of different things (like, a dozen or more), and there's internal docs to get you up to speed. These tools are seriously awesome. And after hours, plenty of employees like to stay and game and eat dinner here rather than going home.
I could get used to this.
[EDIT] I almost forgot. These are the expensive cars I've seen so far:
* Porsches (Boxster, Carrera, 911 Turbo)
* Corvettes (Stingray, C3, C4, C5, C6)
* Lots of high end Mercedes
* Ferraris (F430)
* Aston Marton V12 Vanquish
* Bentley Continental GT
* Dodge Viper
* Jaguars (don't know models)
* Lamborghini Gallardo