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A Custom Chip Will Power The Next Google Phone

  • A Custom Chip Will Power The Next Google Phone

We’ve seen the tech industry develop a new trend with tech giants such as Apple and Samsung developing their own processors. Google is finally joining the pack. But what makes the Google chip different?


Why Custom Chips?

It seems like extra work to design both the software and the hardware of a new flagship smartphone. So why do the tech giants find it necessary to develop their own chips for their phones, laptops, and other gadgets.? It comes down to the fact that advancements in software development has simply outpaced advancements in commonly used hardware systems. According to Rick Osterloh, Google’s hardware chief, the company has hit the ceiling of what it can build with other companies' chips. Osterloh continued to say that the previous hardware wasn’t capable of running sophisticated AI models. It comes down to hardware capability. If you are innovating the future of tech, you can’t play by the rules and regulations of the past.


Google’s Announcement

In the beginning of August 2021, Google announced that its next flagship phones (the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro) will be powered by a custom-built processor called Tensor. The Pixel 6 series is set to be released in the fall. The Tensor chip has taken four years to build with the best artificial intelligence and machine learning experts. Google calls the chip Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU, in reference to the company’s open source machine learning platform TensorFlow. The TPUs will be application-specific chips. They are designed to be machine-learning and compatible with the AI servers that live inside giant data centers. Up until now, Pixel phones have been powered by Qualcomm processors, the most popular processor within non-Apple smartphones. This new silicon Tensor chip will have a similar architecture so customers won’t lose app compatibility.


What’s next in the future of custom hardware in the mobile industry? We’ll have to wait until the fall to see the impact of the new Tensor chip in the Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro.


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