Google managed to embed a lot of software tricks in the new Pixel 2’s camera, as we discussed weeks ago. But the most important tidbit was revealed today. It’s called “Pixel Visual Core” and surprise surprise, it’s the first Google-designed hardware chip, an image processing chip more precisely.
PVC — short for Pixel Visual Core — essentially accelerates Google’s already supreme HDR+ implementation a significant step forward. Apart from reducing the latency at which shots are captured, the chip also turns down the power consumption by one-tenth of the current number. In addition to that, PVC will also dramatically improve the speed, 5X according to Google.
However, what’s even more interesting here is the fact that third-party developers can now leverage Pixel Visual Core to bring the company’s HDR+ technology to their own applications. It’s also programmable, so they can tune for adding more custom functionality. But, as it turns out, PVC is currently disabled on the Pixel 2, even in the stock camera app. Google says it will enable it sometime later after mending critical bugs and shortcomings. As evident from the chip layout Google uploaded, it seems like a regular 8-core SoC. There’s also an additional core in the form of the ARM Cortex-A53 which is responsible for power efficiency.
In the next few weeks or so, it will initially available under the developer settings with Android Oreo 8.1 if customers like to try it out and more importantly so that developers can test it on their apps. Apart from that, Google has not revealed any more details as of yet. But considering the reviews Pixel 2’s camera is already receiving, I’m excited to check how the new PVC chip improves upon on that.