Google breaks from Qualcomm with in-house Pixel 6 chip

Tensor will become Google's first custom-built system-on-chip

Google has announced that its upcoming Pixel 6 smartphone will feature the tech giant’s very own, in-house-built processor.

The Tensor system on a chip (SoC) marks a shift away from Google’s 15-year relationship with Qualcomm, which had up until this point provided the processors for Pixel devices.

In a blog post detailing the announcement, Google’s SVP for Devices & Services, Rick Osterloh, said that Tensor is Google’s “first custom-built SoC specifically for Pixel phones, and it will power the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro later this fall”.

The processor will be adapted for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, in order to “unlock specific experiences for (...) Pixel users”, he added.

This will include better AI-powered photography tools as well as real-time translation services.

“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. For users, this means entirely new features, plus improvements to existing ones,” said Osterloh. “Tensor enables us to make the Google phones we’ve always envisioned — phones that keep getting better, while tapping the most powerful parts of Google, all in a highly personalised experience.”

The processor is also designed with user privacy in mind, and will provide “the most layers of hardware security in any phone”, which is “based on a count of independent hardware security subsystems and components”.

Related Resource

DevOps: A view from the enterprise

What's driving DevOps, the impact of value stream management, and more

High-rise buildings in the background of title card - whitepaper from ServiceNowFree download

However, the Tensor processor will only become available later this year with the arrival of the Pixel 6. The date of the release hasn’t yet been specified.

Google’s upcoming smartphone model, The Pixel 5a, which is expected to launch on 18 August, will remain powered by Qualcomm technology. However, it might be too early to tell whether Google’s shift to in-house processors will be permanent, or whether it’s a temporary move in order to avoid production bottlenecks as Qualcomm struggles to keep up with demand amid the global chip shortage.

In a statement given to Reuters, a Qualcomm spokesperson said that the company "will continue to work closely with Google on existing and future products based on Snapdragon platforms”.

This also includes the Google-Qualcomm collaboration announced late last year, which is to enable all new mobile platforms with Qualcomm silicon to receive four OS version updates and four years of security updates.

Featured Resources

How virtual desktop infrastructure enables digital transformation

Challenges and benefits of VDI

Free download

The Okta digital trust index

Exploring the human edge of trust

Free download

Optimising workload placement in your hybrid cloud

Deliver increased IT agility with the cloud

Free Download

Modernise endpoint protection and leave your legacy challenges behind

The risk of keeping your legacy endpoint security tools

Download now

Recommended

Google banned from importing patent-infringing tech following Sonos IP victory
Policy & legislation

Google banned from importing patent-infringing tech following Sonos IP victory

7 Jan 2022
Google, Facebook fined €210 million for making it difficult for users to reject cookies
Policy & legislation

Google, Facebook fined €210 million for making it difficult for users to reject cookies

6 Jan 2022
Google is working with leading PC manufacturers to improve Android on Windows
Google Android

Google is working with leading PC manufacturers to improve Android on Windows

6 Jan 2022
Google Cloud acquires Israeli security startup Siemplify
cloud security

Google Cloud acquires Israeli security startup Siemplify

5 Jan 2022

Most Popular

How to move Microsoft's Windows 11 from a hard drive to an SSD
Microsoft Windows

How to move Microsoft's Windows 11 from a hard drive to an SSD

4 Jan 2022
How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

6 Jan 2022
Microsoft Exchange servers break thanks to 'Y2K22' bug
email delivery

Microsoft Exchange servers break thanks to 'Y2K22' bug

4 Jan 2022