Google Pixel’s Next-Generation Tensor Processor Enters Final Development Phase

Sophia Rodriguez

The Final Stage of Google Pixel’s Big Tensor Reboot

In 2021, Google embarked on a significant transformation of its Pixel hardware by introducing the first Tensor processor. Now, in 2024, this shift is nearing its completion. With the release of the first Android 15 Developer Preview this week, came a pivotal moment marking the end of Snapdragon Pixels. The Pixel 4a, 4a 5G, 5, and Pixel 5a, which were the most recent Google smartphones powered by Qualcomm chipsets, have reached their end. The Android 15 update officially only supports Pixels released after late 2021, meaning the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the oldest devices receiving the latest updates, with two more years of security updates guaranteed. The pandemic smartphones released in 2020 and 2021, including the Pixel 4a, 4a 5G, 5, and 5a, faced several challenges upon launch, leading to an unorthodox presence in Google’s modern history.

What’s Happening & Why This Matters

In the latter half of 2021, Google unveiled the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro well ahead of their formal debut to offer a glimpse into the new chip they were building. The introduction of Google Tensor marked a reinvention of the Pixel series by replacing Snapdragon chips with chips developed by Google, specifically tailored to the tasks Google aimed to achieve. Initial reviews of the Tensor chip showed promising performance, though not without some hiccups. Despite facing challenges with heat and modem issues, the Tensor chips managed to make a significant impact, particularly by integrating flagship-tier chipsets into Google’s more affordable smartphones. Subsequent iterations of the Tensor chip, including Tensor G2 and G3, have shown improvements in power and efficiency, setting the stage for potential future advancements such as Tensor G4 and G5. The prospect of Google developing its own chip designs presents an exciting possibility, though it remains to be seen how this will unfold.

As Google’s transition from Snapdragon to Tensor processors unfolds, a key consideration is whether this shift was the right move. One of the main goals of Tensor was to bring AI breakthroughs directly to Pixel, and it seems to have achieved that objective. The introduction of Tensor has also allowed Google to offer its Pixel devices at lower prices compared to competitors, albeit with some trade-offs in battery life and performance. With the launch of the Pixel 8 series, the cost gap has narrowed, yet Pixel devices have maintained a competitive edge. The shift to Tensor has made Pixel devices more appealing and worthwhile, offering customers a better value proposition.

t/f Summary: What’s Next

The discussion around whether Pixels should have remained with Snapdragon chips at a potentially higher cost is ongoing. Users’ experiences with Tensor-powered Pixels vary. Google’s move towards Tensor processors represents a significant progression for its Pixel devices. The ongoing development and potential advancements in Tensor chips hold promise for the future of the Pixel series.

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By Sophia Rodriguez “TF Eco-Tech”
Sophia Rodriguez is the eco-tech enthusiast of the group. With her academic background in Environmental Science, coupled with a career pivot into sustainable technology, Sophia has dedicated her life to advocating for and reviewing green tech solutions. She is passionate about how technology can be leveraged to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly world and often speaks at conferences and panels on this topic.
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