Google has been shipping Pixel smartphones with Google Tensor-branded processors since the company launched the Pixel 6 in 2021. Up until that point, Google had used Qualcomm processors for its smartphones.

Using its own processors gives Google more control over the performance and feature set of its phones. But so far all of the Tensor chips used in smartphones are only semi-custom parts based on existing Samsung designs with some extra features like Google’s NPUs (neural processing units) for enhanced AI performance. But according to a report from The Information, Google is planning to move to fully custom chips. The company just won’t be ready to do that until 2025.

Apparently that wasn’t the original plan. According to The Information’s sources, Google had been hoping to move away from Samsung designs in 2024.

But things are said to be taking longer than anticipated, so the first fully custom Google Tensor chip for smartphones will only be produced in small quantities to allow Google engineers to test the processor before moving on to a next-gen chip that could debut as the Google Tensor G5 in 2025.

That means that unless plans change again, we could see an Google-designed processor in the Pixel 10 line of smartphones, and maybe other devices from the company (if the Pixel Tablet and/or Fold stick around long enough to have third-generation models, for example).

Moving away from Samsung designs will not only give Google even more control over the features of its processors, but it will also allow the company to switch from Samsung to TSMC for manufacturing, which could bring performance and efficiency improvements. The Tensor G5 is expected to be manufactured using TSMC’s 3nm process.

While we may have to wait a few years to see what completely Google-designed processor looks like, that doesn’t mean that the next few Tensor chips will just be rebranded Samsung parts. The Information notes that Google “heavily modifies the Tensor, and with each new generation engineers are gradually replacing Samsung parts responsible for everything from communications and audio to image and graphics processing with Google’s own intellectual property.”

And that’s on top of the AI/machine-learning features that have been baked into Tensor chips from the start, which Google leverages heavily for the photography capabilities of its Pixel phones.

One thing to keep in mind is that while Google plans to move away from Samsung’s chip designs, not every part of the chip’s architecture will come from Google alone. The chips will still be based on designs licensed from ARM.

Read more at The Information

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  1. Even if Google makes the best cellphone SOC, how are they going to market it and sell it? Are they going to have voice AI assistants available on their new phones… are their cameras going to take much, much better photos and videos compared to iPhone and Galaxy? The likely answer is No, because Apple and Samsung are presently working on those features too.
    I believe the likely outcome for Google is to spend a crap-ton of money and double their market share from 2.5% to 5.0%… and continue the tradition of their cellphone hardware group running at a loss.

    1. This exactly.
      Even if Google built the Apple A15-Bionic chipset, which is much more advanced than the latest QC 8g2, it won’t have any practical impact. It still won’t match iPhones because they use a lower-level (semi-native) software compared to Android, so there’s efficiency and performance differences there. And to compound on that, many iOS Apps are optimised for the limited range of Devices, whereas Android Apps lack this.

      Anyways, even if Google who is immature in this field, was somehow able to surpass MediaTek, Samsung, and Qualcomm (which is very unlikely), they’re not going to match Apple, let alone surpass it. And Google’s extra-custom chipset will only affect tech enthusiasts. It will have no bearing on the mainstream market.

      The Android mainstream market goes as Snapdragon on the niche flagship, Exynos on the modest midrange Samsung phones, and MediaTek on the low-end devices that makes up the vast majority. Meanwhile, Apple ONLY caters to the flagship crowd, they have a foothold in the wealthiest cities. Their tactic is different to all the other manufacturers, and they’re winning, taking in 80% of all the profits, by only holding the top 20% of sales.

  2. Yeah, I just don’t trust that a company that built its business on data mining didn’t build some degree of data mining into their custom CPU. The more custom parts they’ve got, the more potential places to put it.
    As far as I know, the NSA’s PRISM is still a thing. And Google’s still a part of it.
    Even if most people are too tired to care.

    1. Agreed. But from what I know (and this was many years ago that I read this), the Prism program is a data collection program. All the telemetry that is collected from Microsoft, Google et al, goes into a database that is sold to the government, effectively circumventing constitutional protections, because the gov. didn’t actually collect the data. It’s a way of spying without (in their, not legal opinion) of spying without violating constitutional rights.

      This push for Microsoft, Google and others to develop their own chips does give me concern on a privacy front. I urge others that read this to look up the wikipedia article on the Cyrix chip of the late nineties that had a built-in back door into its registers. If they had that in the 90’s, imagine what exists now…. I don’t trust these custom made chips.

      I’m still of the camp that even though I have nothing to hide, it doesn’t mean I want to show it to everyone. I believe in privacy as a right, and big tech is part of (I believe they are compelled by some obscure law to participate in this program) data collection that the gov. can collect and analyze.

      This, and because (hey guess what? I’ve had a few drinks, so I have loose lips tonight) I personally was a victim of harassment and abuse on online forums is exactlly why I will not participate in online forums except lili. I just stay away and stay low tech. why? Because I believe in privacy, not because I have anything to hide.

      I would advise anyone to give serious thought into whether you want these custom chips on your person or in your home. I do believe this is the reason for mass data collection -> spying and survellience.

      I’m done. I’m going to sleep off this booze.

      and really, it’s the principle of the matter. I don’t do anything illegal, but that doesn’t mean I want a watchful eye on everything I do.

      1. This is one of the reasons that I’m excited about RISC-V… There are RISC-V processors whose designs have been published so that they can be verified.

    2. But you’d happily use an SoC from a government backed monopoly that routinely engages in human rights abuses like Samsung or a chipmaker owned by the CCP?

      Also you are delusional: spying is happening regardless of what silicon is in your device. You could be running something with FOSS hardware or an open standard like RISC-V and you’d still be getting spied on, because all the spying is happening at the ISP and carrier level, not on your device. There’s no need to have a physical device access aka a ‘backdoor’ to gather metadata and other intel that programs like PRISM collect. Operating under that assumption is only going to put you more at risk of being spied on.

      1. Not happily, just exhausted by people demanding that I waste effort fighting every single chip maker because they all do that, and then calling me a stupid paranoid moron for buying stuff that’s an exception because it costs a lot and performs horribly. You really have to do everything perfect if you want to disagree with the average person, don’t you?
        And yes, I know what carriers and ISPs do. What carriers can’t do is decrypt cipher text you transmit. It’s a big enough annoyance for the EU to go forward with chatcontrol, which legally requires backdoors to encrypted messages, despite everyone living there hating the idea but who cares, they’re all weak losers who are going away forever anyway! And if you’re in the UK, don’t worry, they’re pulling the same stuff, even running ads telling the public that encryption puts children in danger. And in the US, they can’t quite push that through directly, but instead they’ve got the EARN IT act that’ll hand the power to order such a thing off to an executive committee that can demand it at their leisure. If Google can exfiltrate encryption keys, then they can read the contents of messages for things like Signal, Briar, Threema, Session, and Matrix. I wouldn’t expect them to do that by default, just if they were ordered to, to ensure that security researchers couldn’t detect it on a stock device. Of course Google Services Framework might contain a few lines that can call the screenshot function, so no googled phone is safe, but that requires more power to process once received, so if they were already doing it, they’d still have some incentives to try and reduce resource usage, and that’s easier for security researchers to partially detect due to the larger amount of data that has to be sent.
        Not that anyone cares about what security researchers find, because if you did, that would mean you’ve got something to hide, don’t you?

        1. “What carriers can’t do is decrypt cipher text you transmit”

          This is how I know you have no idea what you’re talking about. Thinking some weak encryption is enough to protect you. So naive.

          1. Well, maybe, I could stop being so stupid, if you would be so generous as to explain how ISPs can and regularly do break public key cryptography.

  3. Could be good news, the Tensor G1/2 chip is fairly disappointing – constantly put forward thanks to Google’s marketing machine, but the chip isn’t anywhere near as “flagship” as they make it sound (at best a midrange processor with heat issues).