Google Confirms a Custom-Built Arm Chip Named ‘Tensor’ Is Coming on Pixel 6

Written by Bill Toulas
Published on August 4, 2021

Google has officially confirmed all rumors around the custom in-house developed Arm chip codenamed ‘Whitechapel,’ which they call the ‘Tensor.’ The chip is going to debut on the upcoming Pixel 6, which also features the design that was revealed through leaked renders in May. This is a big move by Google as it will help them gain more control over the optimization of the chip, reduce hardware costs, and offer better and more long-term support with future Android releases.

The Tensor SoC is presented as an innovative mobile processor that focuses on AI and machine learning, computational photography, advanced speech recognition for the Assistant, and generally a set of elements that are at the epicenter of the Pixel experience. As such, we don’t expect this chip to blow Qualcomm’s or Apple’s top range SoCs out of the water on benchmark tests, but instead, we expect to see the Tensor attaining a specialization placement in the market. For sure, though, its performance isn’t expected to be disappointing across a range of typical usage scenarios.

This move is simultaneously a differentiating one for Google and, at the same time, a ground-laying act to compete with Apple on all fronts. If Google is to develop a beefed-up version of the ‘Tensor’ chip by next year, we could see Chromebooks that rely upon a powerful and energy-frugal Arm chip. This will be a game-changer in exactly the same way that it was with Apple’s M1 MacBooks. For now, though, these are just logical assumptions and nothing more.

The Pixel 6 device will be released later this fall, so we’ll learn more about the Tensor chip and the device itself in a couple of months. Another detail given away by Google now is that there will be a Pixel 6 Pro, too, featuring more premium materials, a larger screen, a higher refresh display, more RAM, a larger battery, and an additional telephoto lens on the camera array. The SoC is expected to be exactly the same on both models, though.

Source: Google

As for the cost-conscious “a” spin, the next in the pipeline is the Pixel 5a due to a lag in the release that was introduced in the previous generation. It is unlikely that this model will get the new Tensor SoC. Probably, it’ll stay on a mid-range solution from Qualcomm, and the leap to the internally developed chip will be reserved for the Pixel 6a when that comes out.

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