Google started creating its own processors with the Google Pixel 6 series, called Tensor. The company has successfully launched a follow-up to its first generation product, the Tensor G2, which you can find in many of the company's greatest products, including the full Google Pixel 7 lineup, the Pixel Tablet, and the Pixel Fold.
With the next big hardware launch from the company just around the corner in fall 2023, the company is working on a follow-up to its first two chipsets. Here's everything we know about the Google Tensor G3 so far, if that's what it will be called.
What is Google Tensor?
Google is relatively new to the custom chip market, having entered it in 2021 with the Google Tensor SoC powering the Pixel 6 series In contrast to Apple's iPhone and Mac chips, Google's SoCs are decidedly less custom. Google mostly relies on Samsung to manufacture its chips and to provide it with the modem. This is a big point of criticism, with many people experiencing heating Pixel phones with poor connectivity more often than not, something that Samsung Exynos chips are also prone to.
The Tensor chips power all recent Pixel phones.
Despite some of the problems people experience with the Tensor chip, Google's new products have extra features and cores that are missing from other phones. Google builds its Tensor chips with machine learning algorithms in mind, allowing Pixel phones to be more efficient at local tasks like camera post-processing, live audio transcriptions, background music recognition, and some photo editing tools. Google is shy about how it achieves this and whether its custom designs are necessary. After all, the company routinely brings initially Pixel-exclusive features to other devices.
What we know about Google Tensor G3 so far
Thanks to details from prolific leaker Kamila Wojciechowska, who managed to dig up tons of accurate Pixel and Google leaks before, we know a lot about the Tensor G3. Wojciechowska has an anonymous source within Google who states that the Tensor G3, codenamed zuma, has more modern CPUs than its predecessor, which was two generations behind the competition. Tensor G3 is changing that with an upgrade to 2022's ARMv9 cores.
Google Tensor G3
1x Cortex-X3 (3.0GHz), 4x Cortex-A715 (2.45GHz), 4x Cortex-A510 (2.15GHz)
Exynos Modem 5300
The Tensor G3 is supposed to feature nine CPU cores arranged in an unconventional setup. There should be four little Cortex-A510s, four Cortex-A715, and a big Cortex-X3, all with higher frequencies than the Tensor G2. This is essentially a 1+4+4 architecture, which is even stranger than Google's previous 2+2+4 setup on the Tensor G2 and the first-generation Tensor. Most competitors go for a 1+3+4 layout.
What's interesting about the switch to the ARMv9 core is that the new Pixel 8 will only be able to run 64-bit code. This could mean that a few older and no longer maintained apps that are based on 32-bit code may no longer work on the phone. It will also be one of the first, if not the first, Android phone that's capable of running 64-bit only. The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro before it also only offer 64-bit support, but their hardware is technically still capable of running 32-bit apps.
On the graphics front, Google is switching to the Mail-G715. Wojciechowska is not certain which configuration the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are supposed to run. Still, based on hardware configurations she obtained, she speculates that it will be the 10-core Immortalis variant with 890MHz frequency.
It doesn't look like we're in for a huge upgrade in the connectivity department. The current rumors point to Google sticking with the Exynos Modem 5300, though it might be a slightly different variant. This might be an oversight because Pixel owners are routinely complaining about poorer-than-usual connectivity and hot devices in their pockets.
The Pixel 8 and 8 Pro might also be the first phones to offer AV1 encoding. The new video codec is royalty-free and still a technologically advanced solution, making it a prime candidate to become the predominant format in the future. The Pixels may lead the forefront here.
Other tidbits include faster storage with UFS 4.0, improvements in the image processing pipeline, a better TPU for better machine learning and AI applications, and potentially ray-tracing graphics on board.
The new cores should make the upcoming Pixel 8 faster than the competition, though it remains to be seen if Google can fix the thermal issues that plagued the first Tensor and the Tensor G2. Pixel devices routinely get hotter than Snapdragon-equipped Android phones and iPhones with their custom Apple silicon.
What devices will the Google Tensor G3 power?
We're confident that the Tensor G3 will power the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, which we referenced earlier in this article. The Pixel 8 and 8 Pro are predicted to launch in fall 2023, though Google hasn't made an official announcement on the devices or their release date just yet.
Since Google has extended its hardware portfolio this year, the Tensor G3 will likely come to more devices in the Pixel lineup. If Google doesn't axe the Pixel a series (which is a rumor that's currently going around), it could release a Pixel 8a with the Tensor G3 chip. Depending on when Google releases follow-up models to the Pixel Tablet and the Pixel Fold, these devices could also get the Tensor G3.
The Pixel Fold's successor, if it gets one, may be powered by the Tensor G3.
For years, there have been rumors of a higher-end Ultra version of the Pixel. If this pans out for this year, we presume Google will add the Tensor G3 to that phone.
The Google Tensor G3 is likely coming in fall
With the Tensor G3 likely coming to the Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro first, we're looking at a launch in the fall. The current leaks have told us almost everything there is to know about the new chipset, so we can only hope that Google still has a few more hardware surprises in the phones that can surprise us.