It's not uncommon for big business to give Universities special discounts for high profile projects. Businesses often have separate pricing schedules for each. When I was in college sourcing the cost of parts for projects, the first question was always "Government, educational, or private"
Gov't: Highest price schedule
Educational Institution: Varies depending on potential long term benefit.
Private companies: Lowest price schedule
Apple employed a similar attitude to schools for a long time. Get the computers in kids hands at schools when they are still formidable, so it becomes what they are used to using when they leave college. This strategy really didn't work that well.
But at one of my previous employers, large amounts of scientific equipment would be given near cost to universities if it was being used on high profile projects from prominent scientist. The equipment often is listed in scientific review papers during peer review.
I remember equipment being loaned out on a highly rated TV show. The equipment was given out, on loan, just so it could be seen in the background of a lab.
Giving out this equipment has benefits for AMD on multiple fronts. One of which is good PR. The other is proving how stable, fast, and efficient their equipment is.