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Specs of Tensor chip in Google Pixel 6 are here, and they're confusing

We're not quite sure what Google is thinking if these specs turn out to be true.
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C. Scott Brown is an Editor at Android Authority. He lives in New Haven, CT, where he drinks a lot of tea, watches a lot of movies, and eats a lot of delicious food. He likens technology to a catalyst that advances the human race, which is why he is so passionate about it.
• September 15, 2021
Google
TL;DR
  • The Google Tensor specs have leaked through a real-life Google Pixel 6 Pro device.
  • The specs show Google using years-old hardware for no apparent reason.
  • It’s possible Google is hiding the true information of the chipset to avoid leaks, but that’s unlikely.

Yesterday, we found some apparent confirmations of Google Pixel 6 Pro specs, thanks to a supposed real-life unit. The leak gave us a better idea of what to expect when the Pixel 6 series lands in the coming weeks.

See also: All Google Pixel phones released so far

However, the specs of the phone itself are almost as interesting as the Google Tensor specs. Tensor is the name of the Google-designed chipset that will appear in the Pixel 6 line. This will be the first time Google has created its own mobile chipset and could represent a huge shift in the mobile chip industry, of which Qualcomm is the undisputed leader.

Now, XDA-Developers has some information on the Tensor chipset via the same source as yesterday’s specs leak. In other words, the information we have now on Tensor comes from what is allegedly a real unit — although it is very likely a prototype, not a retail model.

If the Google Tensor specs leak is legit, this is what we can expect:

  • 2x Arm Cortex-X1 clocked at 2.802GHz
  • 2x Arm Cortex-A76 clocked at 2.253GHz
  • 4x Arm Cortex-A55 clocked at 1.80GHz

If you think that looks weird, you’re not alone.

Google Tensor specs: What’s going on here?

The most glaring problem with the specs listed above is the 2x Arm Cortex-A76. That’s a model that launched in 2018 and has since been superseded by the A77 and A78 models. Why would Google use years-old hardware in its debut chipset?

A lot is riding on Tensor. This is Google’s first shot at developing this kind of product, and if it doesn’t hit a home run out of the gate, it will be difficult to win over consumers. One would assume it would want to use the latest chip hardware to ensure the most processing power along with the best energy efficiency. But this Google Tensor specs leak suggests that might not be happening.

Related: Why custom imaging chips are the next mobile photography battleground

Is it possible Google is worried about supply issues due to the global chip shortage? Maybe the chipset has been in the works for years and Google doesn’t want to redesign it for the new hardware? Or maybe Google is just trying to cut corners to keep costs down? There are a lot of potential reasons, but no matter what, it doesn’t bode well for the speed and power efficiency of Tensor.

Now, it is possible, however unlikely, that Google is “tricking” XDA here. It’s possible that, to avoid leaks such as these, Google is faking the output from the CPU on prototype models to mask what’s really going on. Once again, this is highly unlikely, but still possible.

For now, though, those specs above are what we should expect with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Get excited, we guess?

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