Intel’s Neural Compute Stick 2 costs $99 and uses the company’s Movidius Myriad X AI processor.

Intel Creates AI On-the-Go Via Compute Stick

Intel’s Neural Compute Stick 2 costs $99 and has the company’s Movidius Myriad X AI processor.  Intel has a new gadget for those who want to bring AI to the devices that roam the world, as opposed to Google and Facebook’s massive data centers.

The Neural Compute Stick 2 (NCS 2) packages Intel’s Movidius Myriad X AI chip into a USB accessory that can plug into a computer. It costs $99, up from $79 for the first model Intel released last year, but it’s eight times faster, said Steen Graham, general manager of Intel’s internet of things.

That speedup is useful for people like Peter Ma, who combined a first-generation Neural Compute Stick with a microscope and laptop to create a device that spots bacterial contaminants in a flow of water. The first prototype scans 3 or 4 frames per second, but the new stick bumps it up to 20, so there’s less chance something will flow past unspotted, Ma said.

It’s not the kind of thing most of us need, but it’s good for prototype creators who want to see what the brain-like neural network technology can do with a hardware boost. AI is good for tasks like speech recognition, photography and spam filtering, but Intel’s Movidius chips are geared specifically for processing visual information.

AI chips are a hot area in Silicon Valley, with companies like Apple and Google working on projects to speed up devices. AI not only opens up new abilities for computers, it also helps compensate for the faltering speed improvements from many general-purpose processors.

The sticks can also be ganged together so a computer can use several at once. The bigger goal, though, is to encourage customers to commercialize products using the Movidius chips.