Google has announced that it will be manufacturing its own custom SoC (system on a chip) called Tensor, which will debut within the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro Android smartphones.
This means that the Alphabet-owned tech titan will be moving away from Qualcomm chips on its higher-end systems, and follow Apple’s path of creating custom silicon. However, the Tensor chips will reportedly be based on the same ARM architecture that Qualcomm uses to create its widely-used Snapdragon series of chips, and Google is still set on using the company’s chips in its budget-minded A Series of devices.
Tech Crunch writes that the ‘Tensor’ name of the chips is a homage to Google’s TensorFlow ML (machine learning system), which has driven a number of the company’s projects. Google cites AI/ML as foundational to the chip’s place in the forthcoming smartphones.
“The team that designed our silicon wanted to make Pixel even more capable. For example, with Tensor we thought about every piece of the chip and customized it to run Google’s computational photography models,” Google writes.
“For users, this means entirely new features, plus improvements to existing ones.”
The Tensor chips will be central to improving the Pixel smartphones in terms of upgraded camera systems, speech recognition and language learning. As of right now, details about what the custom chips really mean for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are still slim, especially with Google planning a full reveal sometime in the spring.
“AI is the future of our innovation work, but the problem is we’ve run into computing limitations that prevented us from fully pursuing our mission,” SVP of Devices & Services, Rick Osterloh wrote in the blog post announcing the Tensor chips’ debut.
“So we set about building a technology platform built for mobile that enabled us to bring our most innovative AI and machine learning (ML) to our Pixel users.”
This latest announcement, though, is probably aimed at laying out future plans for Google’s revamped Pixel team. Last year in May, several key members of the Pixel team left the company in what was reported to be a transitional period.