Intel and Tyndall sign a new €1.5m three-year collaboration pact

24 May 2013

Ireland's Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, TD, with Intel corporate vice-president Dr Mike Mayberry and the CEO of the Tyndall Institute, Dr Kieran Drain

Chip giant Intel has renewed a three-year contract with the Cork-based Tyndall Institute worth around €1.5m. The relationship, described by Intel as unique in the world, sees the microprocessor manufacturer collaborate with Tyndall on R&D, as well as access a pipeline of skilled graduates.

The deal is the latest phase in a relationship that goes back to the 1990s, when the Tyndall Institute was the National Microelectronics Research Centre (NMRC), whose alumni include Intel Ireland head of research Leonard Hobbs, as well as Intel’s first female vice-president Ann Kelleher, who is responsible for Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group worldwide and is co-general manager of Fab Sort Manufacturing.

The contract will provide Intel with a commercial exploitation license to technology created through the collaboration with Tyndall.

The relationship involves experts working together on key challenges that the semiconductor industry faces in making chips more feature rich, smaller and cheaper. World leading experts from Intel and Tyndall look at specific problems and solutions by investigating next-generation materials, devices and photonics technologies for future electronic devices.

Moore’s Law and beyond

Speaking at the renewal of the contract, the vice-president of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group Dr Mike Mayberry, corporate vice-president of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group, described the relationship between Tyndall and Intel as pretty unique and said the collaboration involved focusing on atomic-scale microelectronics to photonics.

“I grew up reading science fiction, but now my job involves turning science into production,” Mayberry said, outlining his role in terms of keeping Moore’s Law on track by discovering newer ways to squeeze transistors and circuits into Intel chips.

Moore’s Law is the abiding principle at Intel whereby every 24 months the number of transistors on a chip doubles.

Mayberry said repeat Intel investment of US$1.5m into Tyndall is a testament to the success of the previous 2009-2012 programme.

“We enjoyed a highly collaborative engagement which produced some very useful learnings for us across a range of challenging topics in areas such as photonics, device modelling and new material development.”

In recent years, the Tyndall Institute achieved a number of world’s firsts, including the world’s first implantable radiation detector, the world’s first junctionless transistor, and the world’s fastest fibre-to-the-home network demonstrator, to name a few.

The research institute counts more than 460 researchers and engineers across 38 nationalities, as well as 134 students.

The University College Cork-based research organisation derives 85pc of its annual income from competitively won contracts.

Research discoveries have resulted in 200 peer-reviewed publications and more than 200 industry partnerships and customers worldwide.

At least nine start-ups have emerged based on Tyndall technology since 2004 and the group has been involved in more than 77 EU FP7 projects worth €38m.

Flexible ecosystem

The recently appointed CEO of Tyndall, Dr Kieran Drain, said: “The renewal of this collaborative research programme between Intel and Tyndall is an important validation of the work we carry out here at Tyndall.

“We have world leading researchers and world leading facilities engaged in delivering the best technology, knowledge and people to our partners. Renewing an engagement of this size is a clear indicator that we need to continue our strategy of delivering scientific excellence with a deep understanding of the issues involved in putting new materials and processes into practice in real devices.

“Tyndall operates a flexible ecosystem that houses both basic and applied researchers and strives to deliver solutions that are to the standards of a world leading semiconductor company like Intel,” Drain said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years