The new Pixel phones lack a Pixel Neural Core, but that doesn’t mean they lack the features
Google is a major player in the machine learning field, leveraging its experience in multiple products, including the Pixel phones. That used to be the case, anyway, none of the new models have the Pixel Neural Core.
This includes the affordable Pixel 4a, the Pixel 4a 5G and even the $700 Pixel 5. Instead, all AI calculations will go through the NPU of the Snapdragon chipset (S730G in the case of the 4a, S765G for the other two).
Last year Google explained that the Live HDR+ and Dual Exposure features can’t be enabled on older pixels because they lacked the Neural Core (they had the older Pixel Visual Core instead). Its absence doesn’t seem to be an issue for the 2020 Pixels as these features are available on all three (even the 4a).
The Pixel Visual Core performance is rated at 3 TOPS. While we don’t know how much faster the Neural core is, we do know that the Snapdragon 765G is faster than the PVC (achieving 5.5 TOPS) while the Snapdragon 855 is even faster (“greater than 7 TOPS”). The Snapdragon 730G offers around 3.3 TOPS – only slightly more than the Snapdragon 845 used in the Pixel 3 and 3 XL.
Clearly, Google reworked and optimized its algorithms (also, since the Cores were specialized, they would have been using less power). Does that mean that the Pixel 4 and 4 XL should get the features too? That remains to be answered.