The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL feature a hidden, latent chip called the Pixel Visual Core – and Android 8.1 will FINALLY unlock it
Google’s Android 8.1 update is now finally available as a preview. If you have a Pixel 2 phone with an unlocked bootloader, you can now install it. Just be warned: it is still a preview build and, therefore, not meant for mass consumption.
The biggest new feature inside Android 8.1, however, is that it will finally unlock the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL’s Pixel Visual Core chip, a dedicated AI chipset that is designed to help with imaging. Up to now, however, the Pixel Visual Core has remained dormant. But like the Kraken, it is about to wake…
So what the hell is the Pixel Visual Core?
“With eight Google-designed custom cores, each with 512 arithmetic logic units (ALUs), the IPU delivers raw performance of more than 3 trillion operations per second on a mobile power budget,” said Google.
It added: “Using Pixel Visual Core, HDR+ can run 5x faster and at less than one-tenth the energy than running on the application processor (AP). A key ingredient to the IPU’s efficiency is the tight coupling of hardware and software—our software controls many more details of the hardware than in a typical processor.”
The key, takeaway here, though, is machine learning – the Pixel Visual Core, as more applications become available, will continually get smarter and that means more applications and better images and a constantly evolving set of skills.
If you’re rocking a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, and you don’t sign up for early access, you can expect Android 8.1 to land at some point in December.
It is also pretty likely we’ll see the Pixel Visual Core appearing on other Android phones in the coming months and years. Imaging is a huge component of phones these days, and Google has invested a lot in the Pixel Visual Core, so it stands to reason that it will want to leverage the technology to its hardware partners. Unless, of course, it intends to use it to bolster the position of its own Pixel phones against the likes of Samsung and LG.
Either way, it should be very impressive once it lands.