Intel fetes four-decade Stanford link

Chip giant is celebrating its four-decade-long relationship with Stanford University by spotlighting the nexus with its executives.

Intel is celebrating its four-decade-long relationship with Stanford University by spotlighting the school's nexus with its top executives.

The Intel-Stanford tie famously began back in 1969 when Stanford electrical engineering alumnus Ted Hoff became Intel employee No. 12. Within two years, he had invented, along with Federico Faggin and Stan Mazor, Intel's flagship product: the microprocessor.

For more than four decades, the Stanford-Intel relationship has been behind the launch of some of Intel's flagship technologies and hundreds of the company's engineering careers. (Almost 1,000 Stanford alumni have worked at Intel and a Stanford University Web page marks this relationship.)

Stanford University

The retirement this month of Intel chairman and former CEO (1998-2005) Craig Barrett, highlights one of the most enduring ties. Barrett was a professor from 1965 until he joined Intel in 1974.

"Industry does a good job at the D part of R&D--but we rely on the tier-one research universities like Stanford on the R side," Barrett said in an interview published on Stanford University's Web site. Barrett cited marquee research at Stanford such as semiconductor device modeling and new packaging technologies.

Senior VP Pat Gelsinger is another Stanford graduate. "We've had great results from the collaboration," said Gelsinger--also quoted in the interview--who earned an masters of science degree in electrical engineering at Stanford in 1985. "In almost every area that Intel is doing work we can point to significant collaboration and research projects with Stanford."

When Gelsinger was a Stanford student, his adviser was John Hennessy, who is now the university's president. Gelsinger said the joint work with Stanford in nanostructures, parallel computing, and visual computing are some of the most critical areas of research. "From the late 1970s when I joined the electrical engineering faculty, to today, Intel has been one of the most reliable and energizing sources of support for Stanford students, faculty and their research," Hennessy said.

In the late '70s, Stanford launched the Center for Integrated Systems (CIS), an effort to bring together computing hardware and software researchers with industry on an open, pre-competitive basis. Intel founders Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore personally enrolled Intel as a founding member.

Intel's support for the center was not just financial, according to electrical engineering Professor Jim Gibbons, who co-founded CIS and was Stanford Engineering's dean between 1984 and 1996. When Gibbons needed to find companies to join, he got help from Noyce and Hewlett-Packard's then-president John Young to recruit other CEOs.

Albert Yu, who in 2002 retired as Intel's senior vice president and had been general manager of microprocessors in a 30-year career at the company, initiated, in the late '90s, the Intel Research Laboratories program and brought in Stanford as part of that strategy. "We made a conscious decision that we would do something...closer to the development side, and fund universities like Stanford and others to do the more far-out stuff," said Yu, who earned his masters of science and Ph.D in electrical engineering at Stanford in the mid 1960s.

And the collaboration continues. "For the last two years, for example, Intel has supported a new collaboration between Professor Krishna Saraswat, a semiconductor devices expert, and Professor Shan Wang, an expert in magnetism, to explore the futuristic possibility of making chips that compute based on the magnetic orientation of electrons, instead of by pushing electrons through transistors. The magnetic approach might require significantly less energy and work better at nearly atomic scales," according to Intel.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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