February 20, 2004

AMD Gives Gift of Technology

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Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) students can now compute more effectively thanks to a donation of 40 computers worth $60,000 from Advanced Micro Devices. The computers, based on AMD Athlon64 3000+ processors with matching Sony LCD displays, are protected behind card access in Phillips Hall 329.

“This donation is extremely beneficial to students, faculty, and researchers,” said W. Kent Fuchs, the Joseph Silbert Dean of the College of Engineering. “This gift comes at a great time when students have a need for high performance computing in their technical curriculum.”

“This is the start of many more donations to come,” said Abeezer Tapia ’02, an ECE graduate and manager at AMD, who was on hand to cut the ribbon. Also on hand were representatives from Corporate & Foundation Relations, and the Cornell Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a student group representing ECE students.

It was an encounter between Tapia and Prof. Clifford Pollock, director of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which led to the generous donation. Last November, Pollock attended a Cornell Club in Austin dinner and encouraged alumni to return to Cornell to give lectures, interviews and contribute to their alma mater. Pollock also expressed a need for better computing facilities, which caused Tapia to step in.

“I took the idea back to AMD and got positive responses, although no commitments,” Tapia said.

After making several inquiries, Tapia secured funding for ordinary 32-bit AthlonXP machines. However, he pushed further and AMD agreed to provide their top-of-the-line 64-bit processors.

AMD, a competitor to microprocessor giant Intel, has recently gained momentum in the computer industry for releasing the first widely available 64-bit processor. Tapia invoked an analogy from “The Matrix”, likening AMD to Neo when he decides to stop running from the Agent (Intel) and fight back.

“The Linux-based ECE lab capitalizes on AMD’s 64-bit technology. As 64-bit technology takes off, the ECE department will not have to scratch existing infrastructure,” Tapia said.

Pollock expressed his delight with the gift. “These are the best of the best, top of the line. These computers will put us in a strong position in the coming year ahead,” Pollock said.

The donation is a highlight of “AMD day” at Cornell, where six AMD representatives came to Cornell to conduct interviews and give technical presentations. Four of the representatives were Cornell graduates, including a senior processor architect, circuit design engineers and marketing personnel.

“This is not a one-time event; we want to continue this relationship. AMD didn’t get where it was without fantastic students, including those from Cornell,” said Jeff Erhardt ’98, a product engineering manager at AMD.

“We at AMD feel that Cornell is the leading ECE school in the country,” Tapia said.

This lab is mostly of benefit to sophomores and juniors taking CS and ECE 314: Computer Organization, required for all ECE and Computer Science majors.

Toby Peterson ’05, an ECE major was keen to use the new workstations. “Let me find something to tax the CPU a bit,” he said.

Archived article by Krishna Raghavan