Intel is planning to invest $100 million over five years to establish university research centers in the U.S. that will develop computing technology with clear commercial applications.
The chipmaker announced Wednesday that the first center would be led by Stanford University, which would act as the hub for coordinating research between Stanford and seven other participating universities: the Universities of California at Davis, Berkeley and Irvine; the University of Washington; Cornell; Princeton; and Harvard.
Four Intel researchers will be assigned to each center to push developed technology out of the universities and into the commercial computing market. The plan is to eventually have a total of six centers, each receiving $2.5 million in funding. Only U.S. universities will be involved. "This is a U.S.-only program, and for the foreseeable future, we expect this to be only a U.S. program," Justin Rattner, Intel CTO, said during a teleconference with reporters.
Each center will be focused on a particular research area, which will be broad in scope in order to provide researchers with lots of flexibility in direction. "We want to encourage new thinking and out-of-the-box thinking," Rattner said.
An advisory board comprised of university and Intel representatives will guide the research and the operations of a center. Other companies, including Intel competitors, could apply to participate in the research, but their acceptance would be up to the board. "It's not our goal to have as many possible companies or (government) agencies participating, but we certainly recognize that in the right situation, it's the best thing for the center," Rattner said.
Other organizations joining a center would have to contribute to the funding and agree to an "open" intellectual property model, which means that technology advancements would be publicly available. The centers will focus on the use of open-source software in their research. "We're treating the research as pre-competitive, and we want to make sure we're not limiting our academic partners," Rattner said.
Intel plans to monitor the progress of the centers before committing to funding beyond five years. "We didn't want this to be an open-ended thing, and then one day wake up and say this doesn't make sense," Rattner said. Intel plans to review the progress of each of the centers at the three-year mark.