Movidius announced that it has entered a partnership with Lenovo that will grant the tech company access to Movidius' Myriad 2 vision processing units (VPUs) and computer vision algorithms for use in “various virtual reality projects.” Although it seems likely that this announcement is about Lenovo's promised Project Tango smartphone, we have reason to believe that Lenovo and Movidius are going to unveil something else--perhaps a Hololens competitor.
The Movidius Myriad 2 is a third kind of processor that is designed to be used alongside the CPU and GPU. The VPU takes on vision processing tasks such as gesture tracking and environment mapping (among other things) to lower the CPU and GPU processing overhead. We first spoke with the company about its VPU technology in early January. At the time, company representatives were coy about the details, but we were told that products with Myriad 2 chips would ship this year.
It appears that Movidius may have been dropping us a hint about today’s announcement. The company revealed that Lenovo has adopted the Myriad 2 vision processing platform to be used in an upcoming line of VR products for 2016.
Movidius engineered the VPU specifically for mobile and head-worn devices. The Myriad 2 VPU chip includes 12 programmable vector cores, a built-in image processor (ISP) and a cluster of hardware accelerators. The total package size is 5 x 5 x 0.35 mm, and Movidius said the part draws only a single watt of power.
We're speculating here, but things add up: We know Lenovo has been dabbling in VR for some time. As far back as Lenovo Tech World a year ago, there was a mysterious HMD (with no additional information) at the event, although that device was of the Gear VR, phone-in-an-HMD design. (We would not be surprised to see Lenovo debut a Google Daydream-type phone/HMD combo at the event. Perhaps it would use the aforementioned Project Tango phone for that.)
But Myriad 2 would be ideal for a Hololens-like AR/VR device, and although Lenovo is known as a PC maker, it actually has an extensive mobile portfolio. In addition to a smattering of smartphones it makes for overseas markets, it owns Motorola. Hololens and Meta 2 are both powerful and impressive devices that are self-contained and fundamentally mobile devices, and Lenovo knows how to make mobile devices. With the Myriad 2, it can add all the tracking that an AR/VR mobile device needs, too.
We'll learn more at Lenovo’s Tech World on June 9.