Wednesday, 03 March, 2021


Pixel Visual Core: Google's custom-made image processing chip

Pixel Visual Core: Google's custom-made image processing chip Pixel Visual Core: Google's custom-made image processing chip
Kristine Garrett | 17 October, 2017, 18:00

The Google Pixels have had several problems since updating to Android Oreo. The company has been talking a big game about the 2's camera and calling it, definitively, "the best smartphone camera".

More importantly, the chip makes HDR+ shooting accessible to any third-party camera app.

Here's a surprise: Google's Pixel 2 phones include a custom system-on-a-chip (SoC) that's optimized for image processing - but it now just sits there, doing nothing. The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL both have it built in, but laying dormant until activation at some point "over the coming months".

There's only one main catch with the Core. The system-on-chip contains 8 Google custom-designed Image Processing Unit (IPU) cores, each with 512 arithmetic logic units (ILU). But the important thing is that each of those eight processors that Google designed has been tailored to handle HDR+ duties, resulting in HDR+ performance that is "5x faster and [uses] less than 1/10th the energy" of the current implementation, according to Google.

One of the features of the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL that flew under the radar a bit was the inclusion of eSIM. eSIM stands for Embedded SIM and it replaces the need ... Starting in an upcoming developer preview for Android Oreo 8.1, Pixel Visual Core will become a developer option. The Pixel 2 is based on the Snapdragon 835 SoC, though, and you aren't allowed to integrate your own custom silicon with Qualcomm's design.

This custom system-on-a-chip (SoC) marks Google's first foray into custom chips in a consumer product. "As noted above, Pixel Visual Core is programmable and we are already preparing the next set of applications".

We've been hearing about Google's desire to design its own SoCs for nearly two years now. Despite all that processing power, the chip sips only very little power. They can send text messages to their contacts, but the incoming texts are not working for most of the users.

We're amazed that Google never mentioned this until now-it had a whole two-hour-long hardware presentation on October 4, and we didn't hear a peep about this.

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