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Google Tensor Chip: A big step for the Pixel phones?

Google launched its first Pixel smartphone in 2016 with the vision to have a better and smarter phone and now in 2021 Google has announced its Google Pixel 6 with its own custom silicon by the name of Tensor processor which would allow Google to display the power of their years of the machine learning experience.

Tensor is Google's biggest bet to gain popularity in the smartphone market and is centered around ML and AI-boosting TPU that will help in improving photos, videos, search, captioning, text-to-speech, and more. Even though the Tensor SoC might not launch at the same height as the iPhones, but can allow Google to become more competitive in the smartphone market.

Google still hasn't revealed a lot about their SoC i.e. their CPU, GPU, modem, or any other major components. Speculations suggest that Google might use third-party components for the same, which means that Tensor will perform in similar lines to that of Qualcomm and Samsung.

Some XDA notes state that Tensor will likely to be a combination of Arm's Cortex-A78, Cortex-A55, and Cortex-A76 CPU cores and Arm's standard Mail GPU meaning that the differentiating factor between Google's Tensor and chips by Qualcomm and Samsung would not be CPU or GPU performance.

The rumors suggest that Samsung and Google are working together on the actual design of the chips. Not a lot of information has been revealed about the chip till now, so the best we could do is wait for Google to reveal more about Tensor.

Building an in-house chip for the Pixel phone is not a new idea for Google they have previously used in-house AI chips in their phones like the Pixel Neural Core and the Pixel Visual Core and Tensor can be considered as a refinement. But Tensor's TPU is offering more powerful AI functionality than either of the two previous chips and is now more closely integrated with the phone.

With the information that is available at the moment, it seems that the only differentiating factor between Google's Tensor and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 is the neural network tricks that Google has up its sleeve.

Google still has a long way to go with their custom SoC and could also enhance the Android flagship experience with its AI features. I guess we will have to wait for the next Pixel to get our hand's on this custom silicon and test out its performance.


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