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Samsung might be making the second-gen Tensor chip for Pixel 7

Updated Jun 1st, 2022 7:47PM EDT
Google Pixel 6 Pro front facing with screen powered on
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Google already showed the world the Pixel 7 a few weeks ago during I/O 2022. The company confirmed the design rumors but refrained from revealing other Pixel 7 details at the show. The new Pixel phones’ formal launch event will follow in October. But Google’s PR stunt didn’t end the Pixel 7 rumor mill. We’re now hearing that Samsung is already manufacturing the Tensor 2 System-on-Chip (SoC) that will power the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.

The Pixel 6 series introduced Google’s first Tensor SoC for smartphones last year. Google joined the likes of Apple and Samsung, smartphone vendors that design their own mobile SoCs. And Google parted ways with Qualcomm, at least when it comes to high-end chips.

But it’s not like Google is in a hurry to use Qualcomm’s mid-range SoCs for the cheaper Pixels. Google just unveiled the Pixel 6a smartphone, the more affordable mid-range 2022 Pixel phone. And the handset runs on the same first-gen Tensor SoC as the regular Pixel 6 models.

The first Tensor can’t outperform the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic in benchmarks, but it does well in real-life speed tests against Apple’s best SoC. That’s not to say that the Tensor 2 coming to the Pixel 7 series can or will outperform the iPhone. But Google has a strong contender in the first-gen Tensor, especially considering what Samsung’s been up to with its flagship SoC for the Galaxy S22 series. It’s not like the Pixel 6 doesn’t overheat, however.

Google's Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are coming this fall.
Google’s Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are coming this fall. Image source: Google

The Pixel 7’s Tensor 2 chip is still a mystery

We don’t even know what sort of upgrades the Pixel 7’s new Tensor will have to offer at this point. But those secrets will leak sooner than later, considering that Samsung will soon mass-produce the new processor. So says Korea’s DDaily. Apparently, Tensor 2 production begins in June, several months ahead of the Pixel 7’s expected mid-October release date.

It’s probably safe to say the new Tensor chip will have eight cores like the original model. But it’s too early to talk about clock speeds and performance.

But the report notes that the Tensor 2 SoC will be manufactured on Samsung’s 4nm process. That’s an upgrade over the Tensor’s 5nm design that should deliver speed and efficiency gains. Samsung also manufactured the current Tensor chip.

Not all smartphone vendors might make that jump, however. Apple is reportedly keeping the A16 Bionic on TSMC’s 5nm process technology. This will give the 2022 A-series chip limited performance and efficiency gains, according to a recent leak. Moreover, Apple will keep in place the 5nm A15 Bionic for the cheaper iPhone 14 models, a first for the iPhone.

Of all smartphone vendors, Apple is the only company that can get away with such a move. That’s because nobody in the industry can match the performance of Apple’s SoCs. Often, the previous-gen A-series processor is the best alternative to the brand new iPhone’s chip.

With that in mind, it’s only a matter of time until the Pixel 7’s Tensor 2 specs and benchmark scores leak. The same goes for the A16 Bionic that will power the iPhone 14 Pro models.

More Pixel coverage: For more Pixel news, visit our Pixel 7 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.