Lebanese American University


Graphics cards giant partners with LAU

The partnership with graphics cards developer NVIDIA creates new opportunities for computer science students.

Graphics card developer NVIDIA designated LAU as a CUDA Teaching Center, and donated thousands of dollars worth of equipment to the university.

The new center allows computer science students in Byblos to become familiar with a booming NVIDIA-developed technology called CUDA.

A new partnership between LAU and graphics card designer NVIDIA may give computer science students an edge in the job market, says Dr. Haidar Harmanani, chair of the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics at LAU Byblos.

In December 2010, the company approved LAU’s proposal, prepared by Harmanani, to designate the university as a CUDA Teaching Center, meaning computer science students in Byblos will be familiarized with the parallel computing systems engine for NVIDIA cards, known as CUDA.

NVIDIA donated teaching and training equipment and software worth thousands of dollars to establish the center.

“Basically what NVIDIA is doing is giving us equipment to teach students CUDA so they can hire them when they enter the job market,” Harmanani says. “They want to develop knowledge in that field.”

CUDA, a cutting-edge technology being pushed around the globe, allows computer systems to use graphics cards, in addition to the computer’s CPU, for computing, resulting in a more efficient machine.

“What NVIDIA discovered in most cases is when you’re doing computations and running programs, your graphics card is not doing anything, so they thought of a way to use that card to also do computations,” Harmanani explains. “The whole idea is trying to improve performance by passing the traditional CPU computational barrier.”

As part of the partnership package, LAU is receiving 15 graphics cards which in Lebanon go for $600-$700 each, two high-end Tesla cards that cost $10,000 each, 15 textbooks, and 15 licenses for software, in addition to other teaching and learning tools.

“It’s not marketing,” Harmanani adds, explaining that NVIDIA is not trying to sell its products. “They are giving us everything for free. The only thing they want to see is students who can program in CUDA — It’s a win-win situation.”

NVIDIA has 25 CUDA Teaching Centers around the globe.


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