News

Google Pixel 2 has hidden chip for image processing

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The Pixel 2 doesn’t have much to prove anymore in terms of camera quality; Google’s flagship smartphone already has the highest score ever on DxOMark, a popular source for camera comparisons. That won’t stop Google from improving on it even further, though.

It was recently discovered that the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL contain a hidden image processing unit (IPU) called the Pixel Visual Core. It’s designed by Google and completely separate from the phones’ primary Snapdragon 835 chipset.


Google claims that utilizing the extra power can lead to faster HDR+ (high dynamic range) processing of up to five times at less than a tenth of the needed energy, resulting in better-looking photos at smoother rates.

As you can see in the image below, the custom chip even has its own memory and eight individual cores:

The kicker here is that this IPU won’t be activated until Android 8.1 Oreo becomes available on the Pixel 2. This means the Google phones have been holding back with their image processing until now, and could experience a boost in camera performance once the next version of Android rolls out.

Why Google didn’t bother mentioning this during the Pixel 2’s launch is a mystery, but it’s possible they want to save their trump card for the right moment. Still, hardware experts were able to tear down the phones and figure out the secret before the search giant could take the next step.

This is officially the first in-house chip made by Google, and it’ll be openly available for third-party app developers to take advantage of, as well.

SEE ALSO: Google Pixel 2 already has original Pixel’s biggest flaw

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Gaming

Epic Games just destroyed Fortnite with a literal black hole

There’s an in-game reason, though (maybe)

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Are you currently wondering if (and why) Fortnite is down? If you’re trying to play the world’s biggest battle royale game, you’ll drop in on a strange sight — a black hole. To answer your first question, the game is currently down. However, Fortnite’s curious status is not because of server maintenance or a glitch. Instead, Epic Games has purposely shut its most profitable game down for the day.

Hours ago, Fortnite ended its tenth competitive season. Like most online multiplayer games today, Fortnite creates months-long periods — called Seasons — wherein gamers can rank up and subsequently gain prizes at the end of the period. However, unlike most games, Fortnite holds in-game events that significantly change the gameplay experience. For example, one of the earliest in-game events was a meteor that destroyed part of Fortnite’s map.


That said, Fortnite’s tenth season ended in a literal black hole that sucked up the entire map. Currently, the game will not start in the same lobby or map. Instead, the game only drops gamers into a front-seat view of the black hole. Fortnite is down. (Epic Games has also shut down the game’s official channels.)

For what it’s worth, the game is still churning out “some” content for viewers. Throughout its existence, the black hole has been broadcasting strange numbers for people patient enough to watch. The first set of numbers — 11, 146, 15, 62 — led viewers to a beach full of crabs when put into Google Maps. It’s a direct reference to crab raves, a meme popularized by the game’s popular Twitch streamers. Since then, the black hole released more numbers — 87, 14, 106, 2, 150. Currently, the new set doesn’t mean anything.

Further, gamers can also input the infamous Konami Code — Up, Up, Down, Down, B/O, A/X, Start/Enter — to access a Galaga minigame featuring a pizza and enemy burgers.

For now, Fortnite fans are stuck with this until Epic Games releases a more definitive conclusion. Most likely, the black hole will usher in a new era for the popular game. This might include an entirely new map or new gameplay elements.

Regardless, Fornite’s black hole is a huge gamble on Epic Games’ part. The developer has purposely shut down its biggest revenue stream for an event. It’s currently unheard of for an industry that values maximum efficiency.

SEE ALSO: Sony finally opens cross-play for Fortnite for the PS4

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News

Samsung is working on cheaper versions of 2019 flagships

Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note 10 Lite is coming

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Still don’t know which 2019 flagship to buy? With the holiday season right around the corner, you’re likely on the hunt for some gifts for yourself and for others. If you’re still busy counting centavos, Samsung is working on a more affordable alternative to this year’s series of flagships.

According to SamMobile, the South Korean smartphone maker is developing a Galaxy S10 Lite and a Galaxy Note 10 Lite. Both smartphones will offer the Samsung flagship experience to more budget-friendly customers.


Based on the rumor, the Galaxy S10 Lite will still carry an enjoyable set of hardware under the hood. Like the other members of the series, the upcoming smartphone will sport a Snapdragon 855 chipset. Inside, it will have 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. For cameras, it will have a triple rear camera combination — a 48-megapixel main shooter, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide shooter, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The selfie shooter will reportedly shoot at 32 megapixels. For power, it sports a huge 4500mAh battery with support for 45W fast charging.

Strangely, the upcoming smartphone’s specs go above and beyond the usual hardware of a “lite” version. Despite the “lite” moniker, the supposed Galaxy S10 Lite is a very capable smartphone. The specs are even better than the Galaxy S10 series’ current affordable version, the Galaxy S10e. Unfortunately, the rumor does not include how much it will cost or when it will drop.

Likewise, the same rumor includes a more affordable Galaxy Note 10 Lite. However, there is even less information surrounding this smartphone. At the very least, Samsung’s insiders have already confirmed the working model — the SM-N770F. No specs or price yet, though.

As with most rumors, wait for a better announcement before setting aside some money on the upcoming smartphone. Given the impressiveness of the specs, these might be a totally new smartphone in the future.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S10 gets Note 10 features

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Enterprise

India will let Huawei demo its 5G technology

Huawei is leading the 5G race

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On the consumer side, Huawei is known for making smartphones and wearables. However, the Chinese company is currently leading research and development of 5G — the next generation of wireless mobility.

It has gotten approval to participate in the demonstration of 5G use cases during the three-day India Mobile Congress to be held in New Delhi, even as the government is yet to take a decision on allowing the firm to participate in the upcoming 5G field trials.


The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has assigned telecom service providers with spectrum in the 3400-3600Mhz band range to demonstrate India-specific 5G technology-use cases.

Huawei will present the demos with Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, who currently use Huawei and ZTE equipment for their network operations in India.

The Chinese giant has been barred by the US due to alleged security concerns. Earlier this year, there were revelations that Huawei is embedding snooping software in the source code of its serves to spy and access the data of other countries.  The US is also lobbying its close allies to boycott Huawei.

On the other hand, Huawei currently leads the 5G revolution due to its massive investment in research and development. Experts say the global rollout of 5G will be delayed by a couple of years if Huawei is barred in multiple markets. Competing companies include Ericsson and Nokia.

India is yet to give Huawei a clean chit for an actual rollout though. For now, the nod is seen as more of a diplomatic move by the Indian government ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India.

SEE ALSO: The new online generation: Explaining 5G internet

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