The first reviews of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have already started to flow, and things are finally looking up for Google’s flagships smartphones. Part of what makes the Pixel 6 special is, of course, the brand new Tensor processor, and while its performance isn’t as mind-blowing as the equally new Apple A15, it still manages to deliver what Google promised as far as machine learning functionality is concerned. There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement, and it seems that Google is already gearing up for next year’s Pixel 7.
It might sound like a no-brainer for some that Google is working on a Tensor 2 chip for the Pixel 7, given how phones normally progress. That said, even this sighting of a “Whitechapel” successor is no assurance that next year’s Pixel flagship would actually run on a different chipset. Google pretty much proved with the Pixel 6 that it can throw tradition out the window if and when it wants to.
XDA’s Mishaal Rahman discovered clues to this Tensor successor in the Pixel 6’s source code as the “GS201”. For reference, the current Google chip used the model name “GS101” and was also codenamed “Whitechapel”. Given the increment, it sounds like a full upgrade rather than an incremental step forward, but what that means in practice is still subject to speculation.
There is definitely a lot of room for improvement if conflicting benchmarks and performance reviews of the Google Tensor are indicators. Depending on what’s being tested or who’s doing the test, the Tensor’s performance is either better or worse than the Snapdragon 888. There also seems to be some inconsistency when it comes to thermal management, which can also affect performance.
The next Tensor could finally upgrade to the newer ARM Cortex-X2, though there might be more interest in seeing the big cores replaced with more recent Cortex-A designs. Heat dissipation seems to be a key strength for the Tensor, at least compared to the Snapdragon 888, though that also involves throttling performance a bit. Being a first-gen chip, there is definitely a lot of room for improvement, and hopefully, Google can iterate over the chip’s development to keep Pixel fans on their toes over future phones.