Google is building its own chip for the Pixel 6 – TechCrunch


Google just released a ton of news about its upcoming Pixel 6 smartphone. Maybe the company was looking to head out at the head of Samsung’s big event on August 11, or maybe it’s just hoping to keep people interested in the months leading up to. a big fall announcement (and get over additional leaks).

In any case, we have the first look at the next Android smartphone, including a fairly massive redesign of the camera system on the rear. The company has traded its square setup for a big black bar that seems to indicate an even bigger push towards updated hardware after a couple of generations spent insisting that software / AI are the reasons it has chosen to fight.

More interesting, however, is the arrival of Tensor, a new custom SoC (system on a chip) that will debut on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. It is an important step for the company as it seeks to differentiate itself in a crowded field of phones. smart, something the company has certainly struggled with in the past.

That means moving away from Qualcomm chips in these high-end systems, following Apple’s path of creating custom silicon. That said, the chips will be based on the same ARM architecture Qualcomm uses to create its otherwise ubiquitous Snapdragon chips, and Google will still trust at the San Diego company to supply components for its limited-budget A-Series.

Image credits: Google

The Tensor name is a clear homage to Google’s TensorFlow ML, which has powered several of its projects. And unsurprisingly, the company sees AI / ML as critical to the chip’s place in upcoming phones. The Pixel team has long pushed software-based solutions, such as computational photography, as a differentiator.

“The team that designed our silicon wanted the Pixel to be even more capable. For example, with Tensor we think of every piece of the chip and customize it to run Google’s computational photography models, ”writes Google. “For users, this means completely new features, as well as enhancements to existing ones.”

Beyond the updated camera system, Tensor will be instrumental in improving things like speech recognition and language learning. It’s understandable that the details are still scant (full reveal is happening in the fall, mind), but today’s announcement seems geared toward exposing what the future looks like for a revamped Pixel team, and certainly these kinds of approaches play out. precisely what Google should do. be doing in the smartphone space: focusing on your intelligence in artificial intelligence and software.

In May of last year, key members of the Pixel team left Google, signaling what appeared to be a transition for the team. Hardware chief Rick Osterloh was reported to have had harsh words at the time.

“AI is the future of our innovation work, but the problem is that we have run into computing limitations that prevented us from fully fulfilling our mission,” Osterloh wrote in today’s post. “So we set out to create a technology platform designed for mobile devices that allowed us to bring our most innovative artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) to our Pixel users.”


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