Google’s Pixel 6 phones to run Tensor SoC, replacing Qualcomm chips

Google promises the Tensor processor it made for Pixel 6 smartphones will provide the smartest, fastest and most secure Pixel phone so far, but didn't offer any specs. (Google)

Google announced Monday its Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones will debut in the fall with Tensor, its own System on Chip (SoC) processor that has been under development in recent years.

The move means that Qualcomm processors used in all prior Pixel phones since 2016 will not be used, news which apparently caused a small decline in Qualcomm’s stock Monday afternoon.  Apple and Samsung both make their own processors for their branded smartphones.

“Tensor was built for how people use their phones today and how people will use them in the future,” said Google’s Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services, in a blog.

“As more and more features are powered by AI and ML it’s not simply about adding more computing resources, it’s about using that ML to unlock specific experiences for our Pixel users,” Osterloh said.

Tensor will be used to run computational photography models, for instance. A security core will work with Titan M2 to provide “the most layers of hardware security in any phone,” he added.

Tensor will lead to a completely revamped camera system and better speech recognition, among other improvements. An online promotion claims  Google Tensor will make the two new smartphones the “fastest, smartest and most secure Pixel phones yet.”  Google didn’t offer tech specs for the chip, however. It will use an Arm design, as do nearly all smartphone processors.

Pixel does not sell as well as popular smartphones. IDC said the top smartphones in the second quarter were Samsung at the top followed in order by Xiaomi, Apple, OPPO and vivo.

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