Intel's Movidius subsidiary has announced the long-awaited launch of its Neural Compute Stick, a USB-connected accelerator for computer vision and other artificial intelligence projects.

Intel announced the acquisition of Movidius late last year, paying an undisclosed sum to pick up the company following its success in integrating machine-learning co-processors dubbed the Myriad family into Google's Project Tango depth-sensing tablet and within Flir's thermal cameras. At the time, the company's only standalone product was the Fathom neural network accelerator, a $100 (around £77 excluding taxes) USB-connected co-processor based on the Myriad 2 chip and offering 150 gigaflops of compute performance in a 1.2W envelope with 512MB of onboard LPDDR3 memory. The Fathom, however, never made it to general availability, and now it's clear why.

The Intel-owned company has announced a follow-up to the Fathom: the Neural Compute Stick, which is effectively a Fathom in a new Intel-blue housing and with a focus less on computer vision and more on general-purpose artificial intelligence and machine learning projects. Internally, however, you'll find little difference: The Neural Compute Stick is, as with the Fathom design before it, powered by a Movidius Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit (VPU).

'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,' claimed Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager of Movidius, at the launch. 'This enables a wide range of AI applications to be deployed offline.'

The Movidius Neural Compute Stick is available to order now from RS Components priced at £83.99 (including VAT), a discount from the Fathom's original suggested retail price. More information, meanwhile, can be found on the developer site.


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