The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL that go on sale in India (and elsewhere) later this month offer a range of interesting features including an improved camera sensor, and best-in-class Snapdragon 835 processor. But there is one more interesting thing about the new Pixel smartphones that the company executives didn’t share onstage at the event earlier this month: a custom SoC (system-on-chip) designed to handle camera image processing.
Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL feature the Pixel Visual Core, a Google-designed chip to enhance the camera capabilities of the phone. The chip isn’t active yet, but the company says when it does activate the chip, the Pixel 2 will be able to process photos faster and efficiently than ever. Google plans to activate Pixel Visual Core at the time it releases Android 8.1 developer preview.
Google says it plans to let developers make use of the Pixel Visual Core SoC in third-party apps for HDR+ photo processing. This will also allow developers to take just as good pictures as the default camera takes.
The Pixel Visual Core has octa-core Image Processing Unit (IPU) can handle more than trillion operations per second, the company says. These IPU cores can process HDR+ image processing by as much as “5x faster” and reduce the power consumption to “less than 1/10th of the energy” than it currently does.
If that wasn’t fascinating enough, the Pixel Visual Core has its own CPU (a single Cortex-A53 core), its own DDR4 RAM, and a PCIe line. “HDR+ will be the first application to run on Pixel Visual Core. Notably, because Pixel Visual Core is programmable, we’re already preparing the next set of applications. The great thing is that as we port more machine learning and imaging applications to use Pixel Visual Core, Pixel 2 will continuously improve,” the company wrote in a blog post.