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Google's most custom Tensor chip yet is allegedly entering production stage at TSMC

Our exclusive report on TSMC fabricating the Tensor G5 for Google's Pixel 10 phones picks up new support.

Published onJuly 3, 2024

Google Tensor chip logo phone in hand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • Google’s rumored move from Samsung to TSMC as its partner for making Tensor chips gets support from new industry sources.
  • Performance improvements are anticipated as a consequence of TSMC’s fabrication processes and Google’s increased role in chip design.
  • The Tensor G5 chip that will power the Pixel 10 has reportedly entered the tape-out stage, just ahead of actual production.

Ever since Google started creating its own chips powering smartphones, back with the Pixel 6 in 2021, the company’s been aligned with Samsung as its manufacturing partner. That’s a situation that’s set to continue with the Pixel 9 later this year, featuring the upcoming Tensor G4 chip at its heart. But that status quo already looks due for a change, and back in May, we discovered evidence linking chip-fabrication heavyweight TSMC to the Tensor G5, expected to debut with the Pixel 10 in 2025. TSMC could be just about ready to get started with Tensor G5 production, according to a new report from The China Times (h/t Notebook Check).

Citing “supply chain sources,” the report attempts to confirm the arrangement Google has made with TSMC, marking a departure from its past Tensor work with Samsung, while also dropping the tantalizing detail that initial production of the Tensor G5 chip could be nearly ready to begin, as the design reaches what’s known as the “tape-out” stage.

A chip in tape-out is in the final phase of initial design prior to the fabricator being able to start making samples. Only then can Google test its new chip on actual silicon, and follow up with any further tweaks to the design that will be necessary before it’s bug-free and polished to the point Google can have it ready for inclusion in the Pixel 10.

Google moving from Samsung to TSMC promises to be impactful for a few good reasons. To date, Google’s Tensor efforts have leaned heavily on Samsung IP, limiting the extent to which Google’s been able to differentiate its chips; by doing more independent design — or just licensing tech from additional companies — Google should have an easier time creating a Tensor chip that stands apart from the pack. TSMC also brings its advanced fabrication techniques to the table, and while this report claims that Google should be taking advantage of the “latest 3nm process” for the Tensor G5, there’s still a little ambiguity there. We could get a chip baked with TSMC’s N3E process, and while that would be perfectly fine, the company could be ready to go with its slightly more advanced N3P process in time for Google’s needs. For now, those details are still up in the air.

Pixel phones have always been about an Android experience that’s just about as Google-y as you can get, and with Google really taking the reins of chip design with the Tensor G5, the Pixel 10 promises to be maybe the purest Google phone yet.

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