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Google Tensor debuts on the Pixel 6, but points to other projects such as OpenTitan

Google Tensor has been the great novelty of the new Pixel 6 smartphones. A customized SoC created in-house by the internet giant that it is not going to stop at consumer products, as it believes it will be a basis for the collaborative OpenTitan project.

One of the big trends in chip designs is the custom silicon search that better fits the needs of each hardware product and that, incidentally, reduces costs or limits dependence on third parties. Apple is the great example for the entire industry and has been tremendously successful in exploiting the benefits of custom hardware and software design under one roof.

And the trend is unstoppable. All large technology companies already have or are developing this type of integrated that are designed in-house (most with ARM license) and then manufactured by the TSMC foundries, GlobalFoundries or the Samsung production division which in theory are more ‘ neutrals’ and produce integrated for all manufacturers. Apple has followed the strategy for Macs, Microsoft wants to do the same for Surface and Google already has its own.

Google Tensor

It is the first that Google has produced a self-designed SoC for a consumer product. Although its internal specifications have not been cited, it is believed to be an ARM with three clusters and seven-core CPU (two high-performance Cortex-A78s, two Cortex-A76s and three Cortex-A55s) accompanied by an ARM Mali-G78 GPU.

This SoC, manufactured by Samsung in 5 nm processes, aims to increase computing power and strengthen photo and video processing capabilities, with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and deep learning.

Beyond its features, it must be said that its name is a clear tribute to Google’s TensorFlow ML that has driven several of its developments in the past and will be the basis of the OpenTitan, the collaborative design project of Open Source chips, which aims to create ultra-secure chip designs for use in data centers, storage, and computing peripherals.

Google will take advantage of all the development done with Tensor to offer «the best experience at the intersection of hardware, software and AI for years to come«, as quoted by Google CEO Sundar Pichai. We could also see this type of chip in Chromebook computers, following in Apple’s footsteps with the M1 for Macs.

The trend of big tech to design their own SoCs seems unstoppable. It is logical that a whole chip giant like Intel is investing multimillion-dollar figures to enter the manufacturing market for third parties.

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