Feature extraction is an essential part in applications that require computer vision to recognize objects in an image processed. To extract the features robustly, feature extraction algorithms are often very demanding in computation so that the performance achieved by pure software is far from real-time. Among those feature extraction algorithms, scale-invariant feature transform (SIFT) has gained a lot of popularity recently. In this paper, we propose an all-hardware SIFT accelerator-the fastest of its kind to our knowledge. It consists of two interactive hardware components, one for key point identification, and the other for feature descriptor generation. We successfully developed a segment buffer scheme that could not only feed data to the computing modules in a data-streaming manner, but also reduce about 50% memory requirement than a previous work. With a parallel architecture incorporating a three-stage pipeline, the processing time of the key point identification is only 3.4 ms for one video graphics array (VGA) image. Taking also into account the feature descriptor generation part, the overall SIFT processing time for a VGA image can be kept within 33 ms (to support real-time operation) when the number of feature points to be extracted is fewer than 890.