We may have some reliable intel in, of all things, a benchmark run
Google doesn’t like to make a big show of it, but it’s an open secret that it’s been working with Samsung to produce its custom Tensor SoC for its Pixel 6 lineup of phones. This year, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are expected to sport a Tensor G2 — there’s already been plenty said about what to expect with that chip, but it looks like some new intel is going to lock things in for us. But that’s not all we’re learning about here.
That intel comes courtesy of developer Kuba Wojciechowski on Twitter who tracked down a recent Geekbench listing purportedly coming from a Pixel 7 Pro.
Long story short: it sounds like the G2 will be made with souped-up versions of the same CPU cores as the original Tensor.
There had already been speculation that the chip would retain the low-powered cluster of four Arm Cortex-A55 cores as its low-power group. New information from the Geekbench file indicates that another cluster — the high-octane pair of Cortex-X1s — will also remain (the tell was a part number reference). All things being equal, it’s extremely likely Google wouldn’t just change out the mid-tier Cortex-A76 duo from the first Tensor.
The corresponding high- and mid-performance clusters have been recorded at marginally faster clock rates and, based on this one run of the Pixel 7 Pro, multi-core performance on the GS201 chipset seems to have benefited with a 10-15% bump against the GS101 on Pixel 6 Pro Geekbench runs.
Wojciechowski also found mentions of the Mali-G710 GPU replacing the G78, giving the SoC’s so-called neural-focused TPU a reliable partner in the graphics department with a claimed 35% boost in machine learning performance. In addition to games, the developer says the GPU also handles a fair portion of work from the device’s camera pipeline. The TPU, by the way, is also getting an upgrade.
There are several markers in the benchmark file which indicate that the device was not spoofed: a unique kernel build; a characteristically Google firmware build version prefixed with TD1A for a Pixel device branch, and; unique CPU clock frequencies to anything else on the Geekbench database.
Other improvements include a new modem — the Samsung S5300 — which will bring support for access to both unlicensed spectrum as well as satellite reception through 5G, and tested support for 16GB of RAM (though this was likely done to further development for a future Pixelbook, the development team for which has been completely fired… so don’t expect much here).
In the wider landscape of mobile silicon, the Tensor G2 isn’t looking to keep up with the next-gen chips in terms of pure performance. That said, Google does have a tendency to favor and the ability to improve upon components it has familiarity with — Pixel cameras are just one example. With Android 13 being less of an important update for consumers, Google engineers may have a little less to juggle to make the Pixel better this year. Not much less, but still less overall.
And if you’re looking forward to the Pixel 8 right now, here’s something you can point back to: engineering samples of the Tensor G3 — we’re calling it that unofficially, but it’s supposedly known better as “zuma” — have reportedly made it to Google. You know, because if it doesn’t work out this time, there’s always next year.