While Google has a long history of partnering with hardware makers to built its range of phones for showcasing the latest developments in Android, It’s created its own mobile camera performance in the Pixel 2.

It is called the Pixel Visual Core, and it’s designed to tackle image processing duties, as well as machine learning tasks.

Pictures taken on Pixel 2 on a 3rd party app. Right picture is HDR+ on Pixel Visual Core.
Pictures taken on Pixel 2 on a 3rd party app. Right picture is HDR+ on Pixel Visual Core.

You can already see it in action in the Pixel 2’s HDR+ mode, which allows foe increased dynamic range and detail in areas with plenty of shadows and highlights. Google says that the octa-core chip is capable for more than 3 trillion operations per second, and can tackle HDR+ processing five times faster than a traditional processor. Plus, it’s said to consume just a tenth of the energy required for these computations.

The development of the PVC follows Apple and Huawei’s announcements of their own neural processors for AI applications, built into the chips powering their respective flagships for this year. Building custom internal hardware for specific functions makes sense for these companies because they can combine software with it and get the best possible performance out of their processors – and ideally, leave the competitions in the lurch.