Intel Launches Movidius Deep Learning AI Accelerator USB Compute Stick

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Intel is expanding its reach into the deep learning field today with the launch of the Neural Compute Stick (NCS), which as developed by its Movidius subsidiary. The Movidius NCS is aimed at democratizing deep learning and artificial intelligence, with Intel billing it as “the world’s first self-contained AI accelerator in a USB format.”

The Movidius NCS is powered by the Myriad 2 vision processing unit (VPU), which promises 100 gigaflops of performance all while operating within a 1-watt power envelope. Given its low-power requirements, Intel is aiming the Movidius NCS at developers, research engineers and of course the do-it-yourself crowd. 

When it comes to applications for the deep learning hardware, Intel envisions the Movidius NCS being used to make drones and robots even more capable when operating autonomously. Intel gives the example of robotic vacuums and vehicle backup cameras that are better able to detect and identify obstacles in their paths.

And given its plug-and-play nature, Intel is really hoping to cater to researchers that would love the ease of plugging in the Movidius NCS to get an added boost for AI training. As you can see in the image below, you can even chain multiple USB sticks together to further enhance your compute performance.

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“The Myriad 2 VPU housed inside the Movidius Neural Compute Stick provides powerful, yet efficient performance to run real-time deep neural networks (DNN) directly from the device,” said Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager of Movidius. “This enables a wide range of AI applications to be deployed offline.”

Intel says that the Movidius NCS is available now, with an MSRP of just $79. The chip giant purchased Movidius back in September 2016 for an undisclosed sum.