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Intel’s Movidius Compute Stick is ‘world’s first’ USB AI accelerator

CHIPMAKER Intel has unveiled the Movidius Neural Compute Stick, which it is touting as ‘the world’s first’ self-contained AI accelerator in a USB format.

The Movidius Neural Compute Stick was first announced last April as a prototype device called the Fathom. Intel then scooped up Movidus in September, and the device got put on hold – until now. 

The device acts as an AI accelerator that doesn’t need to be hooked up to a cloud-based system and makes it easier to add deep learning capabilities to existing computing platforms.

For example, using the device’s technology, developers will be able to design an AI-powered drone or add AI into existing apps and devices. According to Intel, the Movidius USB stick could also reduce research and development costs for testing machine learning applications

“The Myriad 2 VPU housed inside the Movidius Neural Compute Stick provides powerful, yet efficient performance – more than 100 gigaflops of performance within a 1W power envelope – to run real-time deep neural networks directly from the device,” said Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager of Movidius, an Intel company. “This enables a wide range of AI applications to be deployed offline.”

Specs-wise, the Movidius Compute Stick consumes just 1 watt of power and provides 100 gigaflops of performance. It runs on a Caffe framework and connects to a PC via USB 3.0. It requires a 64-bit PC running Ubuntu 16.04, with 1GB RAM and 4GB onboard memory to function.

Intel says the Movidius Neural Compute Stick is now available from select distributors for $79. There’s not yet any UK availability details. 

The arrival of Intel’s AI stick comes just a day after it was revealed that the firm has axed its entire wearables division. According to reports, Intel let go around 80 per cent of its wearables-focused Basis group in November, and two weeks ago, the firm “completely eliminated the group”. µ  

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