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Intel behind Pixel's Visual Core co-processor

The Google and Intel co-designed custom Pixel Visual Core co-processor. (Source: Google)
The Google and Intel co-designed custom Pixel Visual Core co-processor. (Source: Google)
Intel might not be making mobile chips anymore, but it has apparently been hard at work with Google developing the Pixel 2 Visual Core custom co-processor it has been revealed.

While the Pixel 2 XL might be copping a lot of flak for apparent deficiencies in its LG Display-sourced pOLED panel, no one is questioning how good the camera is on the device. Google recently revealed that it has a special custom-designed Visual Core co-processor within it that it will activate in the forthcoming Android 8.1 Oreo update. It has now been revealed that Google co-developed the silicon with chip giant Intel.

A teardown by iFixit last week uncovered the Visual Core and noted that it had a serial number that begins with “SR3,” which is a how the serial numbers on some Intel chips begin. CNBC has now confirmed with Google that it did indeed work with Intel on the chip and did so because there was no component on the market that met their requirements for what they wanted the chip to do. With Intel pulling out of the mobile chip market last year, killing the Intel Atom line, it seemed that they had ended their formal interest in developing mobile silicon – not so apparently.

At the center of the Visual Core is an Image Processing Unit (IPU) that features eight custom cores, each with 512 arithmetic logic units (ALUs). This delivers more than 3 trillion operations per second with ultra-low power draw. When activated, with will use machine learning to deliver HDR+ photos that are processed five times faster and us less than one-tenth the energy that is currently being drawn from the Snapdragon 835 to undertake the same task.


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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2017-10-25 (Update: 2017-10-25)