One of the questions surrounding the impending release of Google’s next flagship phones – the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro – is how good the new, custom, Google-designed Tensor SoC will actually be. Obviously, Google’s been pretty tight-lipped about it aside from some claims about what Tensor will allow them to finally do in the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. I think that’s fair since a phone’s capabilities as a helpful companion device have way more to do with the end user experience than with raw processor numbers and benchmarks. To hear Google tell it:
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 personalized experience.
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.
You’ll see this in everything from the completely revamped camera system to speech recognition and much more. So whether you’re trying to capture that family photo when your kids won’t stand still, or communicate with a relative in another language, Pixel will be there — and it will be more helpful than ever.Rick Osterloh – The Keyword
Clearly, Google is more focused on the machine learning and AI capabilities of Tensor versus the clock speeds, core counts, and raw power the chip will be capable of. Still, as good as Pixel 6 could be at those things (and, for the record I predict it will be exceptional at them), there’s still part of the smartphone experience that simply requires speed. Animations, UI elements, games, video chats, etc. all rely on the internal power of the phone to be adequate in order to deliver a solid overall user experience. While it doesn’t solve every problem, raw power fixes a lot on a smartphone.
Google’s Tensor SoC could be mighty
A new leak suggests that we won’t be wishing and wanting in this department, either. Google looks to have gone all-in on every aspect of the flagship smartphone with Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and if this new leak is accurate, that extends to the processor under the hood as well.
According to news from NotebookCheck, Tensor may arrive and “dominate the Snapdragon 888.” From earlier reports, we were all honestly excited that it may be in a similar ballpark as the Snapdragon 865 for Google’s first attempt, but if what NotebookCheck reports is accurate, this Tensor SoC could be the most powerful processing unit available in an Android phone when it launches.
All of this is based on a leak by Digital Chat Station on Twitter and, if true, we could be seeing something quite special inside Tensor from a sheer power perspective. According to this info, we’re looking at a core configuration that includes not one, but two 2.80 GHz Cortex-X1 cores, four 1.80 GHz cores, and two 2.25 GHz cores alongside the solid Mali G78 GPU. This configuration – 4 big cores for speed and 4 small cores for energy saving maintenance – is similar to what we see in the very-powerful Snapdragon 888. However, with the Snapdragon 888, only one of those larger cores is of the new Cortex-X1 variety. Google’s Tensor SoC looks to be cramming two of those inside.
For reference, the Cortex-X1 cores from ARM are their current top-of-the-line cores meant for power and flexibility. You can read more about the Cortex-X program here, but there is no doubt these large cores are very capable and very powerful. The Snapdragon 888 takes just one of these cores and produces speed we’ve not seen in Android devices before. Now just imagine two of those cores and what kinds of speed we could see. It’s exciting to say the least!
As always, a healthy bit of skepticism is needed, here. This information is 100% based on a leak and, as we’ve seen in the past, that may or may not pan out to actual truth. But I sure hope it does! From the screen to the cameras to the look to the specs, the Pixel 6 Pro is shaping up to be my absolute dream phone. If Google’s custom Tensor SoC is also among the fastest processors when it launches, that clears up the only small hesitation I had left about this phone. I absolutely cannot wait until these phones are made official and one of them (likely the Pro) is in my hands. It keeps feeling as if Google has actually done it this time around and is poised to finally deliver the phones we’ve all hoped for. Stay tuned!