Google Pixel 9 Tensor G4 Chip Might Not Pack Big Upgrades – When Google introduced its first Tensor chipset with the Pixel 6, its intentions were pretty clear: to grow independent of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon (or any other chipset vendor) and build experiences that would otherwise be impossible. While we’re still waiting for the Pixel 8 series and its accompanying third-generation Tensor G3 processor, Google’s chips have already delivered some impressive features that would be impossible on other chips, especially in AI and image processing.
All this, however, was somewhat undermined by the fact that the Tensor chip was designed in collaboration with Samsung. While the feature parts are built by Google, the major design aspects are taken from Samsung’s Exynos chips.
Google Pixel 9 Tensor G4 Chip Might Not Pack Big Upgrades
Unfortunately, in this case the Tensor G3 is coming and the Tensor G4 is coming. Thanks to Google Insider
Google Pixel 9 Series Powered By Tensor G4 Soc Will Not Get Any Major Upgrade In Terms Of Performance.
As reported by Information (listed) Google initially planned to release its 2024 Pixel series with a “fully custom” Tensor SoC codenamed “Redondo” (internally also known as “RDO”), built on a TSMC processor node. However, due to the fate of the USA, it was too late to include the chip 9 series in 2024’s Pixel (as the development of chips is a long process, starting almost years before the release).
Google has instead designed the SoC for manufacturing testing purposes, so its successor, which will likely make it into the 2025 Pixel devices, will share many of its design elements. As we learned, Google has designed a development board called “ChallengerDeep” to work on the chip.
There is still the matter of the Pixel 9. With Redondo out of the picture, Google has another chip like the Tensor G4. The solution to this problem is a new chip codenamed “Zuma Pro.” Note that the Tensor G3 — the SoC coming to the Pixel 8 series — is known as the “Zuma.”
The new chip is still semi-custom, designed with the LSI Systems LSI division, and will likely be a minor upgrade than originally planned. This is similar to how the Tensor G2 (codename “Whitechapel Pro”) was a modest update on the original Tensor (“Whitechapel”). The chip is currently under development under the codename “Ripcurrent 24” (also referred to as “Ripcurrent Pro”), while the Tensor G3 used “Ripcurrent” mode.
The Google Pixel 9’s Tensor G4 Chip Might Not Pack Big Upgrades
Google is also already working on the next generation fully-custom Tensor chip codenamed “Laguna Beach” (or simply “Laguna”) for 2025 pixels. A development board for the chip codenamed “Deepspace”.
You might be confused about what “fully custom” or “semi-custom” means in the context of SoC design. To answer that, we need to look at the history of Tensor’s minds and how they will change after this transition.
Google probably first approached thinking of its SoC something like this: a few years back, it wanted something to complete the great work of the existing hardware team (like Pixel Visual Core, Titania security chip and Edge TPU) into a single smartphone chip that would be uniquely designed for its needs and needs.
At the time, Google’s chip team (known as gChips) was quite small, so designing an entire SoC from scratch would be difficult (if not impossible). Instead, Google decided to find someone who could handle parts of the design process that it didn’t have the ability to do, while its team worked on components that more directly affected the Pixel user experience.
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Samsung LSI has reportedly established a new “Custom SoC” division in early 2020, providing support for the next design of new weapons. The company was looking to push its huge library of IP blocks, including CPUs to 5G modems, based on its proven track record in a number of products. We don’t know exactly when Google approached Samsung (it would likely have been in 2019 or earlier), but the nature and timing of Tensor and the public’s awareness of Samsung’s custom chip line ventured quite well.
Initially, Google worked on smaller IP blocks and needed an experienced chip designer to put the rest together.
Google released a list of project requirements, consisting of custom hardware and specific customizations it wanted to include — for example, Tensor’s more unique 2+2+4 CPU core layout. LG began working on its own contract, using IP from its vast library to build the rest of the SoC to specific requirements. Meanwhile, Google has started preparing to bring custom hardware parts (such as Titan chip, Edge TPU, custom ISP elements, or custom AV1 decoder) to LG for final integration. After this, Samsung began work on the design of the chip body and finally manufactured it in one of its fabs.
After that, Samsung helped Google in the early stages of work on the chip (which is called “lead-up”) and further helped them in solving problems and bugs. The company also provided Google with software for some of the design elements on the chip.
Google October 19 Event
Through all of this, Google was able to take its first custom product to market in considerably less time and with a smaller team than Tensor had wanted to build independently.
Over the past few years, gChips has greatly expanded its team and experience. It also expanded its IP block library. For example, Tensor G2 introduced a DSP called GXP. Google is increasingly capable of undermining Samsung.
So what exactly is changing with Redondo and Laguna Beach? Google will now respond to all aspects of the design process previously made by Samsung.
First, you will have the necessary hardware IP blocks, whether you design them in-house or license them from a third party. There are many companies that provide these types of services, such as Arm, Cadence, Synopsis, or… Samsung. It’s likely that Google will initially use some of the IP used in its Exynos chips in its “fully custom” chips, but the nature of the design will be far more customizable.
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The Google team will also discuss the project’s verification and physical aspects of the package, two notoriously difficult aspects. Not only that, but it will be responsible for dealing with chip fabs (like TSMC) and other miscellaneous steps involved in the process. Much of the software will likely need to be written from scratch, and Google will no longer have to ask LG for help.
What does that look like in practice? It is likely that we will see more drastic changes to the Tensor chip coming in the short term. Fully moving behavior is allowed for independence and allows Google to expand its behavior beyond what’s currently available, but it’s not a miracle – it’s simply the next logical step in Tensor’s evolution. One thing we know for sure, however, is that you turn them to TSMC, which now manufactures nodes far more efficiently than anything Samsung has offered.
We’re excited to see what Google has in store for the future Tensor chips. While Redondo’s delay is undoubtedly disappointing, it will eventually lead to an improved Tensor G5, which should be great for future Pixel buyers. The Google Pixel 8 is expected to make its debut in late 2023 but it appears to already be in the works. Word on the vine indicates that the 8th generation Pixel series, the third gen Tensor, is in development. Sadly, though, it seems that LG is being manufactured in spite of TSMC’s just, recent dominance.
Google is set to debut the Pixel 7 series in the coming months, but it already has its sights set on its 2023 smartphones, the Pixel 8 series. According to a new report, the SoC expected to power the Pixel 8 is already in the works.
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This chipset, likely to be branded Tensor 3 or something along those lines, will sit under the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Considering Google’s release schedule, it is expected before the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, and should be a rival to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that debuts later this year. Unlike the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the third-party Tensor chip, or Tensor 3 if you will, looks to be manufactured by Samsung.
As revealed by GalaxyClub, Samsung is working on a new chip for Google model number “S5P9865”. The first-gen Tensor in the Pixel 6 has the designation “S5P9845”, and the second-gen chip has been released as “S5P9855”. Being a third-gen Tensor “S5P9865” sounds logical.
Considering the less-than-stellar reputation of the recent Samsung Node, fans of the Google Pixel lineup are unlikely to be surprised by this revelation, as TSMC seems to hold a heavy advantage in this area. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, for example, was built by Samsung but had to be replaced half a year ago with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 built by TSMC. Nokia also does well, although not seriously.
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