AMD, San Francisco Giants Partner on Technology for Ballpark

The baseball organization will standardize on AMD technology, starting with HP all-in-one PCs to enable fans to make votes for the All-Star team.

Advanced Micro Devices will have a growing presence at the San Francisco Giant€™s ball field over the next three years.

Officials with AMD and the Giants announced a multi-year partnership June 26 that will include the baseball team standardizing its customer-facing and corporate computing systems on AMD€™s processors, starting with 66 TouchSmart 320m all-in-one (AiO) touch-screen PCs from Hewlett-Packard that are enabling fans to make their votes for the All-Star roster from the stadium.

In addition to the AiOs in the luxury suites, over the course of the partnership, the Giants organization will standardize its front-office operations with AMD-based desktop PCs and notebooks and will add servers powered by AMD€™s Opteron chips to its data centers.

Until now, the Giants€™ computing systems represented a mix of vendor platforms, including technologies from both AMD and its larger rival, Intel, according to Giants CIO Bill Schlough. However, given the growing trend of more video and graphics crossing the ball club€™s networks from fans and employees alike, it was important to find the best technology to handle the increasing demand, Schlough said in an interview with eWEEK. AMD has that technology, he said.

€œIt feels to us that AMD is really positioned well in the areas where we want to innovate,€ Schlough said. €œThat€™s in video and graphics.€

He pointed to the perfect game that pitcher Matt Cain threw for the Giants June 13. At the end of the game, fans uploaded more than 70GB onto the stadium€™s networks€”more than in any of the World Series games the team played in San Francisco in 2010€”and the bulk of that was in photos and videos.

That€™s part of a larger trend that€™s seeing not only fans, but players, coaches and club employees as well demanding a high-quality online experience at AT&T Park that can handle the graphics and video they€™re using.

AMD in 2006 bought graphics technology vendor ATI for about $5.4 billion, and has since grown its graphics chips capabilities. Last year AMD introduced the first of its accelerated processing units (APUs), which integrated both the CPU and graphics technology onto the same piece of silicon. The company this year is rolling out the next-generation APUs, including its recently released A-Series €œTrinity€ chips, which officials said offer greater performance and energy efficiency than previous APUs.

The deal with the Giants not only gives AMD a high-profile business partner, but also will enable the chip maker to demonstrate how its products can help other enterprises, according to Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of AMD€™s Global Business Units.

€œOur technology partnership with the San Francisco Giants puts AMD in a great position to showcase the role AMD technology can play to help large organizations harness the trends around consumerization, the cloud and convergence to drive their business,€ Su said in a statement.

The Giants€™ Schlough said AMD€™s technology is what the organization needs to accommodate the growing number of mobile devices fans are bringing to the stadium and players and employees are using at work. Five years ago, about 1 percent of the fans who came to games would connect to the stadium€™s WiFi network. Now 30 percent of fans do, and the number will continue to grow, Schlough said. And they€™re pushing more videos and photos over the network.

€œPeople are not just bringing their phones to the ballpark and making a phone call, or texting to say to someone, €˜Meet me at the statue,€™€ he said. €œThey want to share their experience.€

Players and coaches are given tablets, which they use for everything from creating scouting reports to watching game films, Schlough said, while employees are using more video with their systems. That€™s where the club will rely a lot on AMD technology, he said.

For now, having the HP TouchSmart 320m AiO touch-screen PCs has enabled Giants fans at the ballpark to stay a step ahead of those at other fields when it comes to All-Star Game voting, he said. The deadline for voting is midnight Eastern Time June 28, and Major League Baseball (MLB) has stopped handing out paper ballots at ballparks, leaving most fans now with voting online and through mobile devices as their only alternatives. However, fans at AT&T Park can still vote at the ball field through the HP AiOs, which now have MLB€™s All-Star voting page as the systems€™ home page.

It not only gives Giants fans more time to vote from the ballpark, but could also mean a few more votes for Giants players, he said.

Sports and entertainment arenas increasingly are leveraging technology to add to the fan experience and improve operations, and some tech vendors are seeing growth opportunities there. Probably the most active has been networking giant Cisco Systems, which has created a business unit around the segment and has its technologies in such buildings as Dallas Cowboy Stadium and New Meadowlands Stadium, which houses the New York Giants and Jets.