Google Partnered with Intel for the Pixel Visual Core Chip in the Pixel 2
Google has made major progress over the years with their cloud-based machine learning technology. It’s been used to beat world champion Go players (which was previously thought to be impossible), and over the last couple of years Google has slowly leveraged it to add a number of features to mobile and web services. However, Google is more or less still a software company and a new report confirms they worked with Intel to build the custom AI silicon used in the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL – the Pixel Visual Core.
We recently learned about the details of this Pixel Visual Core a couple of weeks after Google’s new smartphone launch event. As of right now, it is not currently active but it will be enabled in the soon-to-be-released Android 8.1 Oreo OTA update. This custom SoC includes eight Image Processing Unit (IPU) cores, with a single Cortex A53 core, DDR4 RAM and a PCIe line with its main purpose being used to increase HDR+ image processing, “5x faster and at less than 1/10th the energy.”
So while Google doesn’t make the hardware components used in their new devices, they do contract them out to other companies. This new report from CNBC confirms that Google partnered with Intel to create this Pixel Visual Core chip. As mentioned, this is a custom piece of silicon and had to be fabricated from scratch as no existing chip on the market had exactly what Google wanted. We’ll have to wait and see how this improves the already impressive camera of the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL, but it’s something we’ll have our eye on.
This partnership with Intel is interesting considering they recently canceled a number of mobile chips that were slated for smartphones and tablets. We also know that Google’s new Google Clips camera also uses Intel’s Movidius Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit (VPU) for its AI magic to be possible. So while Intel may not be on top of the mobile SoC game right now, they don’t seem to be giving up on the market entirely.