Intel Discontinues First-Generation Movidius Neural Compute Stick

Intel NCS. (Image credit: Intel)

Intel announced that it would soon discontinue the first-generation Neural Compute Stick, which launched in 2017. Intel will continue to sell the product for another year and support it for another two years.

Intel Neural Compute Stick

Intel acquired Movidius back in 2016, and a year later it released the previously showcased Movidius Fathom Compute Stick under the Neural Compute Stick (NCS) name (with some slight changes). The stick targeted developers who wanted to develop and test AI applications on a small budget. As a USB stick, it could be added to almost any computer.

The NCS is powered by a Myriad 2 Visual Processing Unit (VPU), which can reach 100 GFLOPS of performance with 1W of power, according to Intel and Movidius. Besides being used as a development tool, the NCS can also be used in production to accelerate offline AI applications on machines that aren’t capable of running said applications efficiently because they lack AI-optimized processors.

Switching to NCS 2.0

Intel recommends developers to switch to the next-generation NCS 2.0, which features up to eight times the performance of the first-generation NCS. The NCS 2.0 comes more compute cores, as well as dedicated hardware for deep learning network inference.

The SDK of the first-gen NCS supports only the TensorFlow and Caffe frameworks. However, the NCS 2.0 also comes with the open source OpenVINO toolkit, which expands the support for machine learning software frameworks and type of processors.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.