On June 1, 2017 Microsoft launched the second version of what is now called the Microsoft Cognitive toolkit, to accelerate the process of deep learning.
The Open source kit which was earlier known as CNTK, is new range of competition against TensorFlow, Caffe and Torch by Microsoft. The earlier version being more speed-centric, this time Microsoft has put efforts into usability, future extensibility, while still maintaining and improving its speed.
The toolkit originally launched into beta in October 2016 and the team has tested it ever since. Now, the company deems it to be ready for production use. The new toolkit includes hundreds of new features to streamline the process of deep learning and to ensure the toolkit’s seamless integration throughout the wider AI ecosystem.
The Cognitive Toolkit will continue to push forward capabilities by adding support of the latest NVIDIA Deep Learning SDK and advanced GPU such as NVIDIA Volta. In addition, version 2.0 also includes Java language bindings for model evaluation and a number of new tools that allow trained models to run on relatively low-powered devices, including smartphones.
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft is stressing the fact that the Cognitive Toolkit is a battle-tested system that it uses to power most of its internal AI systems, including Cortana, and that it can train models faster than most of its competitors. In addition to the Cognitive Toolkit, developers can access a suite of cloud computing applications via Microsoft Azure such as easy to use and deploy machine-learning application programing interfaces, or APIs, via Microsoft Cognitive Services.