Intel discusses research projects in Saudi Arabia

Intel discusses technology research opportunities with Saudi government and education organizations during chairman's visit

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By  Mark Sutton Published  April 8, 2008

Intel has held discussions with government officials in Saudi on possible technology research projects.

Speaking to media in Dubai, Intel chairman Craig Barrett said that he discussed possible research activities with the Saudi government, in areas including nanotechnology, broadband wireless and the development of algorithms to harness the power of multi-core processor technologies.

Barrett visited Saudi Arabia on Monday as part of a trip to the Middle East, and met with government officials to discuss possible initiatives. He said that more research is needed to get the best performance from multi-core processors

"I think there is a challenge in front of the industry, in terms of some of the basic research that has to take place into computer algorithms and the use of multi-core capabilities," he said. "We were discussing possible research activities and multi-core processing is one of them, fundamentally two areas of importance, one is the fundamental research that goes into that, and there will also be the opportunity for local software manufacturers to take advantage of multi-core if they have the processing algorithm."

Samir Al-Schamma, general manager for Intel GCC said that the multi-core processor technology, which allows multiple applications to be carried out simultaneously, would have important regional implications for areas like Arabic language processing, and also for computing rich applications in the energy sector.

"Arabic language text-to-speech and speech-to-text, requires a lot of processing, we have [co-operated] in the past with companies like Sakhr and other companies on that; and we are looking for opportunities to do more research in that space; the energy industry does some very intense applications and calculations, and they always ask for more power to make those faster, these are both areas where multi-core is just starting to show benefits," Al-Schamma said.

Intel would also look at long-term internship programs for Saudi engineers, he said. The company had earlier announced new educational initiatives for the Middle East, and the signing of a new WiMAX deal with the Knowledge Economic City in Medina,

Barrett said that he did not feel that recent criticisms of WiMAX meant that there were fundamental problems with the technology.

"I don't think you ought to take one bad example as a measure of the technology's success or not; in Saudi Arabia we have seen substantial introduction of WiMAX, there, hundreds of trials going on, and well over 100 commercial applications," he said. "The fact that one provider had problems with the technology I don't think is indicative of the technology as a whole having a challenge.

"WiMAX has a substantial lead over the long term evolutionary strategy of 3G, the so called LTE technology that is targeted to come out in two to three years, so I think there's a very adequate window for WiMAX in the market place, and there are lots of big players who are considering investments," he added.

Barrett's visit to the region is taking place in part through his membership of the United Nations panel on technology and also in support of Intel's World Ahead Initiative. He will also visit Abu Dhabi and Kuwait during the trip.

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