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Exclusive: Google Pixel 10's Tensor G5 chip will be manufactured by TSMC, and we can prove it

Google's Pixel 10 is in for a long overdue upgrade.

Published onMay 25, 2024

Google’s custom Tensor processors have been developed in close collaboration with Samsung’s silicon division since the first generation chip back in 2021. While this arrangement has allowed Google to develop its processors in considerably less time and with fewer engineers than would otherwise be required, it also meant Google was confined to Samsung’s technologies. It was fine in most cases, but one area where the Tensor chips definitely suffered was thermals and efficiency — lately, Samsung’s Foundry has been no match for TSMC.

Fortunately, it appears that this will soon change. Late last year, we confirmed that the upcoming Pixel 9’s Tensor G4 will still be manufactured by Samsung and will be a fairly small upgrade overall. However, recent leaks have suggested that the Tensor G5 will be manufactured by TSMC, making it Google’s first chip made without help from Samsung.

Thanks to information spotted by the Android Authority team in publicly available trade databases, we can prove the rumors true and provide a bit more insight into the new chip.

Proof that TSMC is building the Tensor G5

Tensor G5 shipping manifest

A bit of extra context is needed to understand the source we used. When companies import or export, they are required to declare the contents, value, and type of goods being traded. You might have encountered something similar when importing something from a foreign country — your country’s customs agency might ask you to fill out a form to declare the contents and value of the items being imported so that you can pay the appropriate tax amount.

Some countries share these declarations with third parties who request them, the result of which are services that provide search engines for this data (some of them are free). Thanks to this, we can sometimes obtain information about upcoming devices, which has lately proven useful in various leaks, including some regarding Qualcomm, for example.

What you see above is the shipping manifest of a Tensor G5 sample chip that can be found in publicly available databases. The description might seem really complicated, so let’s break it down.

On track for launch

Tensor G5 shipping manifest description breakdown

First of all, how do we even know this is the chip we think it is? It’s simple: “LGA” is the abbreviated codename of the Tensor G5, “Laguna Beach,” which has been known for a while now. Similarly, Google used to abbreviate “Whitechapel” (first-generation Tensor) as “WHI” and “Zuma Pro” (Tensor G4) as “ZPR.”

As you can see, the declaration directly mentions TSMC and InFO POP, a packaging technology exclusive to TSMC. While this is already big—it confirms the leaks were correct—the declaration provides more information we can investigate.

Google needs more time than usual, so manufacturing the first samples this early is a logical step.

The chip revision is “A0,” the earliest available silicon, most likely broken in some ways, which will be corrected in future revisions before release. “OTP, V1” means the earliest version of the one-time programmable data in the chip. Google can change some of the chip parameters (often related to security, power, and locking down certain features) without changing the physical structure of the chip. In this case, it’s the first revision (for comparison, the final version of Tensor G3 has OTP V5). “NPI-OPEN” further confirms this is a very early sample of the chip: NPI is “New Product Introduction,” the process of bringing a new chip to market, where the manufacturing steps are still being worked on. The passed tests tell us that the chip has also been verified to be at least somewhat functional, especially the SLT (system-level test), which tests a finalized chip in a complete test device, simulating basic use cases of a retail device.

All this would make sense, given that the chip is about 16 months from release. To get this brand-new platform up and running, Google needs more time than usual, so manufacturing the first samples this early is a logical step.

The entry also mentions the chip has 16GB of package-on-package RAM manufactured by SEC (Samsung Electronics Co). This aligns with the leaks that the Pixel 9 Pro has an upgraded 16GB of RAM, which presumably will set the standard for the Pixel 10.

One last thing we can learn from the entry itself is that the exporter was Google LLC in Taiwan, and the importer was a company called Tessolve Semiconductor in India. Tessolve is a company specializing in semiconductor solutions, including verification and testing. It’s likely that Google is working with it to offload some of the work that was previously done by Samsung.

The Pixel 9 isn’t out yet, but we’re already looking forward to the Pixel 10

While the Pixel 9 is not even out yet, knowing that the Pixel 10 will use a TSMC-manufactured chip makes us even more excited about the future. Don’t get us wrong, Pixels are great phones even as they are today, but they have definitely been held back by the subpar manufacturing process of their chips, so this will hopefully make them even better and more competitive.

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