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What Did Intel Just Buy, Movidius Edition


Intel just acquired Movidius, maker of low-power computer vision hardware.

This move comes just weeks after Intel's acquisition of Nervana systems.

In my ongoing coverage of machine learning M&A, I take a look at Movidius.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) did it again. Just weeks after buying Nervana systems, the chip giant has acquired Movidius, maker of low-power computer vision hardware. This comes as part of Intel's strategic move into deep learning hardware, which has decidedly different requirements than classic CPUs, Intel's bread and butter. As always in my machine learning M&A coverage, we take a quick look at what Intel just bought and then discuss potential implications for the company and broader market.

Movidius: products and company

Unlike many machine learning companies with rather opaque product statements (like this one), Movidius has a razor-sharp focus on low power system-on-chip deep learning hardware. As I have discussed in previous articles, general purpose GPUs [mostly made by Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA)] are the main drivers of large scale machine learning. Yet, they are not flexible enough in some aspects to support recent progress in making neural network training more efficient (mostly low precision/8 bit integer weights).

The trend is decidedly going towards deep-learning specific hardware that's entirely optimized for the matrix operations neural network training requires. None of the overhead of a general purpose GPU that also can do all the stuff required for gaming. Earlier this year, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) revealed it had already been using a custom chips for a year to power its cloud machine learning platform...