Microsoft and Intel Launch Parallel Computing Research Centers to Accelerate Benefits to Consumers, Businesses

REDMOND, Wash., and SANTA CLARA, Calif. — March. 18, 2008 — Intel Corporation and Microsoft Corp. are partnering with academia to create two Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers (UPCRC), aimed at accelerating developments in mainstream parallel computing, for consumers and businesses in desktop and mobile computing. The new research centers will be located at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Microsoft and Intel have committed a combined $20 million to the Berkeley and UIUC research centers over the next five years. An additional $8 million will come from UIUC, and UC Berkeley has applied for $7 million in funds from a state-supported program to match industry grants. Research will focus on advancing parallel programming applications, architecture and operating systems software. This is the first joint industry and university research alliance of this magnitude in the United States focused on mainstream parallel computing.

Parallel computing brings together advanced software and processors that have multiple cores or engines, which when combined can handle multiple instructions and tasks simultaneously. Although Microsoft, Intel and many others deliver hardware and software that is capable of handling dual- and quad-core-based PCs today, in the coming years computers are likely to have even more processors inside them.

“Intel has already shown an 80-core research processor, and we’re quickly moving the computing industry to a many-core world,” said Andrew Chien, vice president, Corporate Technology Group and director, Intel Research. “Working with Microsoft and these two prestigious universities will help catalyze the long-term breakthroughs that are needed to enable dramatic new applications for the mainstream user. We think these new applications will have the ability to efficiently and robustly sense and act in our everyday world with new capabilities:  rich digital media and visual interfaces, powerful statistical analyses and search, and mobile applications. Ultimately, these sensing and human interface capabilities will bridge the physical world with the virtual.”

“Driven by the unprecedented capability of multicore processors, we’re in the midst of a revolution in the computing industry, which profoundly affects the way we develop software,” said Tony Hey, corporate vice president of External Research at Microsoft Research. “Working jointly with industry and academia, we plan to explore the next generation of hardware and software to unlock the promise and the power of parallel computing and enable a change in the way people use technology.”

About the Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers

Twenty-five top-tier institutions in the field of parallel computing research were evaluated as part of the selection process. UC Berkeley and UIUC were unanimously selected for their outstanding reputation in computing and their expertise in the specific area of parallel computing among other reasons. The UPCRC at UC Berkeley will be directed by David Patterson, professor of computer science and pioneering expert in computer architecture, and will include 14 members from the UC Berkeley faculty, as well as 50 doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. The UPCRC at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be led by Marc Snir, professor of computer science and Wen-Mei Hwu professor of electrical and computer engineering, in collaboration with 20 additional faculty members and 26 graduate students and researchers. Software developed by the centers will be made available to the technology community for additional development.

“This new center is exciting because it will allow us to explore the amazing potential of parallel computing,” Patterson said. “We look forward to this once-in-a-career opportunity chance to recast the foundations of information technology, which will benefit the entire IT industry for decades to come.”

“We now face the exciting challenge of making parallelism so easy to use that parallel programming becomes synonymous with programming,” Snir said. “The University of Illinois has a long and proud tradition of being at the forefront in parallel computing. We look forward to ushering in a new era of parallel computing with Microsoft and Intel — one that meets the unique needs of client-focused mass-market applications.”

The research will complement and extend existing parallel computing programs at UC Berkeley, UIUC, Microsoft and Intel. The centers’ research agenda aligns closely with both Intel’s Tera-scale Computing Research Program and Microsoft’s Technical Computing Initiative.

Parallel computing has become essential to enhancing program performance and satisfying the increased demands for power efficiency and small form factors. The challenge ahead for the technology industry is bringing the benefits of multicore processing based on tens or hundreds of cores to mainstream developers and, eventually, consumers. The ultimate goal is to make parallel computing easier for developers by providing solutions to new platform architectures, operating system architectures, programming methods and tools, and application models. The changes needed affect the entire industry, from consumers to hardware manufacturers and from the entire software development infrastructure to application developers who rely upon it.

About Intel R&D

Intel’s worldwide network of research centers spans more than a dozen countries, including China, India, Russia, Germany, Mexico and Spain. Intel has a long history of collaboration with university researchers, and funds hundreds of individual academic research grants and encourages open, collaborative innovation through its network of research labs located adjacent to top universities. Intel’s research foci span many areas of computing, including wireless communication, energy efficiency, transistor materials, multi-core architecture, and the future mobile and pervasive computing. More information can be found at www.intel.com/research.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research currently employs more than 800 people in six labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at http://www.research.microsoft.com.

About Intel

Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Additional information about Intel is available at www.intel.com/pressroom and blogs.intel.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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