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The Pixel 6 chip might be made by one of Google's frenemies

Tensor may share more in common with rival chips than you think.

Published onAugust 3, 2021

google tensor processor
  • Sources claim Google is using Samsung to make the Tensor chip inside the Pixel 6.
  • It’s reportedly built using the same 5nm process as Snapdragon 888 chips.
  • This suggests it will be competitive with modern phone processors.

Google was keen to hype up the Tensor chip inside Pixel 6 phones, but it was curiously shy on just who was making that hardware. However, there might not be much mystery left. As 9to5Google reports, Nikkei sources claim Samsung will manufacture Tensor parts.

The apparent leak didn’t reveal many details. However, the tipsters said Samsung would manufacture the Pixel 6 chip using the same 5nm process it does to build the Snapdragon 888 for Qualcomm. While performance could easily vary between the two (Tensor leans heavily on AI), it does suggest Google’s hardware will at least be competitive with the 888 and other 5nm parts.

Related: Snapdragon 870 vs Snapdragon 888

Samsung declined to comment to Nikkei. Google has so far been quiet on these details, although CEO Sundar Pichai did say Tensor was “4 yrs in the making.”

It wouldn’t be a shock for Google to rely on Samsung factories. It’s still relatively difficult to produce 5nm components, and customers like Apple have snapped up much of the supply at TSMC. The global chip shortage only exacerbates the problem. Samsung may offer not just cutting-edge chip technology, but reliable production that will keep any Pixel 6 shortages to a minimum.

If true, the scoop still highlights the awkward dance between Google and Samsung. They’re dependent on each other’s businesses and recently collaborated on the next version of Wear OS. At the same time, they’ve tried to undermine each other through backroom deals and competing software. As relatively neutral as Samsung’s chip division might be, Google is still asking a “frenemy” to make a key Pixel 6 component.

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