Pixel Visual Core: How does it make a difference?

There was a lot of hype when Google revealed that its latest Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL comes with a secret secondary SoC. Well, does that mean better performance? Better battery life? Not quite. The search engine giant revealed the Pixel Visual Core helps the two flagships process images better. Now you must be wondering what does this really mean in real life situations? The camera on the Pixel 2 is ‘The Best’ smartphone camera out there and the way Google has managed the Portrait Mode is also quite commendable. But there is another thing which plays a huge part in Pixel 2’s camera performance. And that is HDR+. Google’s HDR+ has been a big deal ever since it was made public back in 2014. However, it is surely not very easy on the primary chipset that comes on a Google smartphone. To solve this problem, Google included a secondary chip dedicated especially for this purpose. Let’s break it down even more.


Pixel Visual Core: How does it work?

Apart from the powerful Snapdragon 835 silicone which the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are quite proud of, Google also included an 8-core IPU (Image Processing Unit) also known as Pixel Visual Core to handle the image processing part. Google claims that this 8-core IPU is capable of performing 3 trillion operations per second which, when combined with the Snapdragon 835, makes up for a serious beast in the palm of our hands. Now, you must be thinking why the second chip? The Pixel 2 camera outperforms all the smartphone cameras out there. So why a secondary dedicated chip? Google’s Answer: Efficiency.

Yes, the reason Pixel 2 camera is so good is primarily because of how well Google managed to implement the HDR+ technology. HDR+, if you are not aware, is a term used when the camera takes a ton of shots with the same level of exposure, stitches it and adjust the colours, detail, sharpness etc. with the help of software. Now all this takes up quite a bit of power when done on the Snapdragon 835.


Enabling the Pixel Visual Core means that the HDR+ not only takes less time to process but it is also easy on the battery. A chip dedicated to this process coupled with an incredible software work by Google makes it up for an efficient yet one of the best camera smartphones out there.

Better Image Quality in 3rd Party Apps

Android, as we all know, struggles when it comes to clicking photos via third-party apps like Snapchat, Instagram etc. You know it, an iPhone beats any Android smartphone in the market when it comes to posting stories on Snapchat or Instagram. Well, the Pixel Visual Core does come in handy here. With the February 2018 update on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Google has enabled the Visual Core for third-party apps which brings the HDR+ functionality to these apps as well. So if you are on a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, you will definitely notice the difference. Look at this photo, as an example.

The sad part here is that Pixel Visual Core is limited to Google Pixel devices, at the moment and if you ask me, I don’t see it coming to other Android flagships anytime soon.


So what does the Visual Core actually do? Well, to sum up, the secondary SoC help process the images much faster when clicked through the stock camera app while it significantly bumps up the quality in third-party apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

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