Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pixel Visual Core in the Google Pixel 2 & 2XL is a Custom SoC for Image Processing

In the months leading up to the release of the Google Pixel 2, many had expected the company to include the Snapdragon 836 SoC. This was mentioned in a number of rumors and it would have lined up with how the original Pixel phones launched with a revised Snapdragon 821 last year. However, it turns out the two new Pixel smartphones have a secret SoC inside them called the Pixel Visual Core and it is said to be dedicated exclusively to camera image processing.

Many within the Android community have been wanting Google to create their own custom SoC for years now. When this was brought up before, it was referring to custom CPU and GPU cores like we see in other chipsets from the likes of Qualcomm, Apple, and Samsung. There was even talk about this not too long ago when the company hired a key chip designer from Apple to bulid custom chips for the copmany. This immediately got people thinking about custom CPU and GPU cores and while this still might happen sometime in the future, this could have been for the new Pixel Visual Core instead.

Today, it has been revealed that both the Pixel 2 as well as the Pixel 2 XL both have a custom SoC in them called the Pixel Visual Core. It packs eight Image Processing Unit (IPU) cores, with a single Cortex A53 core, DDR4 RAM and a PCIe line. Dedicated chips aren’t anything new to Google either as the company included the Android Sensor Hub in their Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X devices so it could monitor the movement of the device (and yours, by extension) through a sort of co-processor. Now, the new Pixel Visual Core is dedicated strictly to image processing with the company saying it can do HDR+ image processing “5x faster and at less than 1/10th the energy.”

However, the Pixel Visual Core is not currently enabled in the two new Pixel phones but it will be enabled soon. Google tells us this custom SoC will be enabled with the upcoming Android 8.1 Oreo update and that a developer preview will be made available “in the coming weeks.”


Source: Ars Technica

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