Google Tensor Chip: Everything You Need to Know

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Google put an end to leaks and rumors and confirmed the existence of a custom SoC (system on chip) for pixel phones yesterday. The first Google mobile chip, called the “Google Tensor,” powers the next Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The company isn’t ready to share accurate details about CPUs, GPUs, and other specs, but has summarized what it knows about the Google Tensor chipset so far. So, if you want to know why Google’s upcoming Pixel 6 series is special, read through to learn all about Tensor chips.

Google Tensor Chip: Everything You Know (2021)

Google Tensor will be dedicated to the company’s Pixel smartphone, but that’s the plan, at least for now. In addition, the company uses Tensor on its flagship handsets, and the budget Pixela series will continue to use the Snapdragon chipset for the foreseeable future. That said, what you can expect from a Tensor chip is:

What is Google Tensor Chip?

The Google Tensor chip is Google’s first in-house system-on-chip (SoC) for smartphones. The chipset will debut in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro later this year. The name Tensor comes from Google’s machine learning chip “Tensor Processing Unit” (or TPU for short), which is widely used in data centers.

Why is Google making its own mobile chip?

Before we dive into the details, it’s important to understand why Google is breaking its ties with Qualcomm on its flagship Snapdragon chipset and creating their own custom SoCs. There are three main reasons for this. Please let me explain.

  • Finer control of hardware

Google previously used custom-designed coprocessors such as the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 series Pixel Visual Core, the Pixel 4 Pixel Neural Core, and the Titan M security chip. Google had the edge in AI and computational photography with these coprocessors, but it still had to work whatever Qualcomm had to provide to power its pixel devices.

For tech giants like Google who have the resources to build their own hardware, building an in-house SoC is a natural next step. In this way, companies can fine-tune their hardware to improve overall performance and provide an optimized Android experience. And it will allow Google to provide an experience that may be lacking on other Android phones on the market.

Pixel 6 camera feet

“We used Tensor to think about every part of the chip and customize it to run Google’s computational photo model. For users, this means improvements to existing features in addition to all-new features. . “ Rick Osterlow, Senior Vice President of Devices and Services at Google, says.

For example, consider LaMDA, Google’s latest language model, unveiled at I / O 2021 earlier this year. With Tensor, Google may be aiming to perform such resource-intensive tasks on your device. This will improve the Google Assistant experience on Pixel. phone. Of course, this is just speculation at this point. You have to wait to see how the Tensor chipset works.

Another area where the Tensor chipset benefits Pixel 6 smartphones is software updates. Smartphone makers usually need to rely on Qualcomm for firmware updates before pushing the latest Android updates. Qualcomm offers at most three years of major OS updates and four years of security updates. For example, consider the ridiculously expensive $ 1,499 Snapdragon Insiders phone.

This may change with Google Tensor. The Pixel 6 lineup can offer a 5-year Android update in the air.. It’s not yet clear if this will include OS updates or only security updates, but it’s a welcome move for Pixel owners. As a software company, Google has enough apps and services to make money from its customers, so it’s a good idea to take Apple’s service-centric approach to retaining users.

If you don’t know what that means, let me explain briefly. Apple has also provided iOS updates for devices five years ago, so users keep their iPhones for a long time. This means less sales for the new iPhone. So Apple wondered how it could make more money from existing iPhone users. That’s where add-on service subscriptions such as Apple Arcade (vs Google Play Pass), iCloud +, Apple TV +, and Fitness + intervene. These help the company make additional money from existing, unmotivated users. Upgrade to the latest iPhone.

Five years of software updates will be a big attraction for Android enthusiasts, as Google already has most of the services they can count on.

  • Expansion of potential ecosystem

This is probably a long shot, but what if Google positions the Tensor chipset as an alternative to Apple’s M1 chip? You might see more smartwatches, smart speakers, and even Chromebooks running Google’s silicon internally. It will be interesting to see how the Tensor chip holds up to discover the potential of chipsets beyond smartphones.

Google Tensor: CPU

Google Tensor Chips-Look at Google's Custom Chips for Pixel 6 First
Image courtesy of: Twitter / Sundar Pichai

Unfortunately, Google hasn’t yet revealed details of all the cores of the Tensor chipset. If so, I’ll update this post. But for now, we have to rely on leaks and rumors of the Tensor chip’s internal codename, Whitechapel, for specifications. That said, what you can expect from the CPU side of Google Tensor is:

Based on the leak, the first Tensor chip 5nm process.. It could be an octa-core chipset manufactured in collaboration with Samsung Semiconductor’s SLSI division. Google Tensor may feature three cluster setups using TPUs (Tensor Processing Units).Early rumors suggested that the Tensor chip might have. 2 Cortex-A78 cores, 2 Cortex-A76 cores, and 4 Cortex-A55 cores.. However, it may contain a single A78 core, three Cortex-A78 cores, and four Cortex-A55 cores, such as Exynos 1080. You need to wait for Google to shed some light on the Tensor spec and make sure you know it.

Google Tensor: GPU

According to a report from XDA Developers, the Tensor chip Mali-G78 GPU It is based on ARM’s Valhall architecture. This is the same GPU used in the Exynos version of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series. Samsung used a 14-core variant of the Mali-G78 GPU for the Galaxy S21, but it’s still unclear how many cores the Tensor GPU has. We’ve already seen Huawei offer a 24-core Mali-G78 GPU for the Kirin 9000 chip in mobile devices.

Google Tensor: AI and ML

AI and ML are two core areas where the Google Tensor chip is likely to get a lot of attention. According to the company, improvements in cameras (especially video), voice recognition, voice commands, translations, captions and dictation can be expected. One of the practical use cases that Google points out in a blog post is Tensor chips help Pixel 6 capture better images of moving subjects..

Google Tensor Chip-6 Pixels

In addition, Google invited several publications to the Pixel 6 Series hands-on session to demonstrate some of the device’s AI features. First, let’s talk about the benefits of photos and videos. With the Pixel 6, the Tensor chip makes it easy to sharpen blurry images and record challenging HDR videos. The company compared HDR video taken from the Pixel 6 with the Pixel 5 and iPhone 12 Pro Max, and according to the hands-on session, the Pixel 6 video looked best. Other demos demonstrated the device’s text-to-speech and live subtitle capabilities. These features are now more accurate and faster with the Google Tensor chip.

Google Tensor: Security

In terms of security, the Tensor chipset features the new Titan M2 security chip.With Titan M2, Google says Pixel 6 has the most hardware security layers on any smartphone.. It is based on the number of independent hardware security subsystems and components.

Google Tensor: Benchmark

Google hasn’t officially released any details about the Tensor chip, including the benchmark score, so we don’t yet know the Tensor benchmark score. But what we know is that Google’s custom chip matches the performance of the Snapdragon 870. Therefore, you can guess where the Tensor chip stands among its rivals.

The Snapdragon 870 chipset on the OnePlus 9R scored 674,104 points on the AnTuTu benchmark, which should be close to the Google Tensor benchmark score. This is lower than the 842,168 score on the Redmagic 6 with the Snapdragon 888 chipset, or the 1,084,653 score on Apple’s A14 Bionic chip on the iPad Pro 5.

Google Tensor vs Snapdragon 888 vs Apple A14 Bionic

In summary, let’s take a quick look at how the following Google Tensor chips compare to the flagship Snapdragon 888 and Apple A14 Bionic chips.

Google tensor Snapdragon 888 A14 Bionic
CPU Tensor, octa-core CPU Kryo 680, octa-core CPU Hexa core CPU
CPU core 2x Cortex-A78 core
2x Cortex-A76 core
4x Cortex-A55 core
1x Cortex-A78 core
3x Cortex-A78 core
4x Cortex-A55 core
1x 2.84GHz (Cortex-X1)
3x 2.4GHz (Cortex A78)
4x 1.8GHz (Cortex A55)
2x 3GHz (Firestorm)
4x 1.8GHz (Ice Storm)
Process technology Samsung 5nm Samsung 5nm TSMC 5nm
GPU 14 Core Mali-G78 Adreno 660 4-core GPU designed by Apple
Machine learning and AI In-house NPU, up to 5.7 TOPS (forecast) 6th Generation AI Accelerator with Hexagon 780 DSP 16 core neural engine
ISP Upgraded version of Neural Core? Spectrum 580 Image signal processor designed by Apple
Camera function At least up to 50MP.No specific details Up to 200MP; Zero 28MP Triple Camera
Shutter lag; Triple 14-bit ISP
Not applicable
Video function 4K recording (planned) 8K @ 30 FPS, 4K HDR Dolby @ 60FPS, 720p @ 960FPS 4K HDR Dolby @ 60FPS
charging Fast charge Fast charge 5 (100W +) Fast charge
modem Samsung’s in-house 5G modem
Snapdragon X555G modem
Qualcomm X605 G Modem 7.5Gbps Peak Download 3Gbps Peak Upload Qualcomm X555G Modem 7.5Gbps Peak Download 3Gbps Peak Upload
WiFi support Wi-Fi 6E compatible (planned) Wi-Fi 6E compatible Wi-Fi 6 compatible
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.2 (planned) Bluetooth 5.2 Bluetooth 5.0

Google Tensor: Google’s first mobile SoC

So that’s all you know about the Google Tensor chip at this point. As you can see, Google has chosen to keep quiet about Tensor details and rely on past leaks and rumors. You’ll have to wait until late this fall to learn all the exact specifications of the Tensor. In the meantime, check out everything you need to know about the best features of Pixel 6 and Android 12.