A small California-based start-up claims it has what it takes to beat Intel at the artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration game, teasing a USB-connected accelerator it claims is 90 times more efficient than Intel's Movidius Neural Compute Stick.

Launched by Intel in July last year and based on the Fathom USB accelerator developed by computer vision specialist Movidius prior to Intel's acquisition of the company, the Movidius Neural Comptue Stick uses a Myraid 2 Vision Processing Unit (VPU) to accelerate computer vision and deep-learning workloads with 150 gigaflop compute performance in a 1.2W USB-connected device. A few months later Intel announced the Movidius Myriad X, a VPU offering a claimed tenfold performance increase over its predecessor.

Gyrfalcon Technology, though, claims to have even Intel's latest Myriad part beaten. The company's Laceli AI Compute Stick, it claims, offers 2.8 teraflops of compute performance in a mere 0.3W power envelope - around 75 times the performance of the Myriad 2 in the Movidius Neural Compute Stick and 7.5 times the performance of the Myriad X.

Powered by the company's APiM architecture-based Lightspeeur module, the tiny flash-drive-like accelerator gets its claimed performance by doing the heavy computational work directly in memory - meaning that data doesn't have to move out of RAM and into the CPU to be processed, as with a traditional architecture. This, the company claims, reduces the power draw considerably while having 28,000 individual computing cores working in parallel provides the grunt. The Stick is claimed to be compatible with both the Caffe and TensorFlow AI platforms.

Gryfalcon has stated it is shipping the parts to 'qualified customers' now at an as-yet unspecified price, and will be showing the device off in public demonstrations during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this month.

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