"A key ingredient to the IPU's efficiency is the tight coupling of the hardware and software", wrote Ofer Shacham, senior staff engineer, and Masumi Reynders, director of product management. It's kind of odd that such a major hardware addition was never mentioned during Google's Pixel 2 event, but hopefully this little secret weapon will soon give a boost of adrenaline to an already outstanding camera.
The Pixel 2 is powered by a Snapdragon 835, and Qualcomm doesn't exactly let manufacturers tinker with the chip and add customized processors and the like. Google says that using the Pixel Visual Core, the smartphone can process HDR+ photos five-times faster but with only a tenth of the battery drain when compared to the application processor, which third-party apps now use for imaging.
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Meanwhile, we're still waiting for the first non-Google phone running Nougat to get an official OTA update to the latest major platform version, with new handsets offering build O goodies out the box feeling as rare as Bigfoot sightings. Google had to use a minimal SoC to surround its eight-core IPU and then connect it to the main SoC.
From left: Photo taken on Pixel 2 with third-party app, compared to photo taken with PVC.
Once Google flips the switch on the image processor, what users will notice is the superb HDR+ of the Pixel 2. The Pixel Visual Core could very well be the first step to Google taking on Qualcomm. Started out as a BlackBerry addict until he bought HTC's Droid Eris and never looked back. He rides motorcycles for fun and would live on the beach if it was legal.