Intel Labs will invest $100 million in U.S. university research over the next five years, the chipmaker announced today.
Intel will open Intel Science and Technology Centers (ISTC) across multiple universities, focusing on projects in areas "that align with the company's research agenda including visual computing, mobility, security and embedded solutions," the company said.
The new investment model is expected to result in U.S. researchers receiving up to five times more funding from Intel Labs when compared to the investment model Intel has used to date.
Citing President Obama's State of the Union address last night, Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, said universities are struggling with research dollars amid the economic recession. "Universities have been hard hit. This is intended to help the universities move beyond the recession and be part of the recovery," he said.
Stanford University will be the hub for the first center, which will focus on visual computing experiences for consumers and professionals. Researchers at Stanford will collaborate with a community of researchers from seven other universities including Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Washington.
"Stanford is honored to be chosen as the host university for the initial ISTC," said Pat Hanrahan, the lead academic principal investigator for the ISTC on Visual Computing. "This is an exciting new model that will have huge impact on the future of computing."
Each ISTC is funded for five years at $2.5 million per year and each will focus on one research area, such as visual computing, secure computing, and cloud computing.
One of the biggest challenges for Intel in the past has been getting technology out the laboratory and into products, said Rattner. "Many technologies don't reach escape velocity," he said. "It's important to move this research into product."
One way Intel will accomplish this is by putting four Intel researchers at each center. "Just writing a check and periodically showing up" to check on research progress doesn't work, Rattner added.
The recently introduced "Sandy Bridge" will be a key technology. "The 2nd Generation Core Microprocessor (Sandy Bridge) will be an especially attractive processor to use due to the integrated processor graphics capabilities," said Rattner, responding to an e-mail query. "An example area would be finding the best ways to perform parallel processing of future visual applications," he said.
During a conference call today, Rattner discussed one "Holy Grail project" as a camera-based visual technology in which someone using their smartphone or tablet could go into a virtual store and try on clothes.