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Intel Donates Processors for Teaching, Research

Chips Are Worth $14K

UMass Lowell Image
The Intel i5-2500 processor, left, features four cores and four threads, a clock speed of 3.3 gigahertz and a cache memory of 6 MB, while the Intel Xeon E7540 processor has six cores and 12 threads, a speed of 2 GHz and a cache of 18 MB.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

Intel, one of the world’s largest semiconductor chip makers, has donated a dozen computer processors to the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department for use in research and teaching.

The donation, worth nearly $14,000, consists of six Intel Core i5-2500 and six Intel Xeon E7540 processors. 

“These are powerful processors,” says Assoc. Prof. Yan Luo, who received the chips on behalf of the department. “They have multiple cores that can speed up computations of large-scale applications, which require a lot of CPU cycles.”

Luo says the chips will be used for scientific computations, modeling and simulations, machine-learning algorithms, high-performance network packet processing and virtualizations.

“We will also use them to teach undergraduate and graduate students how to write parallel programs,” he says.

Luo has had long-term involvement with Intel’s research labs and educational programs. 

“In 2010, the company donated to the department two computer servers with powerful processors for use by our students in the lab,” he says.

The Cornell Cup Competition

Intel and Cornell University are hosting for the first time this year the Cornell Cup USA, a national competition that empowers undergraduate and graduate students in science and engineering to become inventors of the newest innovative applications of embedded-design technology.

UMass Lowell is one of 24 teams that have been selected to compete in the Cup’s finals, to be held in May at Walt Disney World in Florida. Other finalists include teams from UMass Amherst, MIT, Georgia Tech, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Penn State, Purdue and USC. The overall winner will receive a $10,000 prize.

UMass Lowell’s entry — called the “JouleCycle” — is a gaming system that helps people exercise regularly, achieve caloric balance and control obesity. 

“Obesity is recognized as a serious public health problem that leads to many illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease,” says Luo. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about a third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years are obese.”

The JouleCycle is built around a human-powered bicycle and an Intel Atom development board that uses no battery. The game player generates the electricity needed to run the Atom board and its customized hardware and software by pedaling.

“To make the game interesting and enjoyable, the power generated by the player determines the game’s themes and levels,” he says.

The JouleCycle Team consists of ECE seniors David Cote and John Foley, ECE sophomore Andrew Hajj and Mechanical Engineering master’s student Michael McGinley. Profs. Yan Luo of ECE and Hongwei Sun of Mechanical Engineering are the faculty advisers. The team received $2,500 in funding from Intel to build the system and help cover travel expenses to Florida.

For more information about the Cornell Cup, go to