Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

There’s something weird about Google’s Pixel 6 processor

Published Sep 16th, 2021 10:26PM EDT
Pixel 6 Processor
Image: Google

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

The iPhone 13 is the talk of the town this week, as Apple has finally unveiled the highly anticipated new iPhone series. But Apple competitors really want you to know that other phones exist. That includes Google, currently running an ambitious Pixel 6 marketing campaign for a phone that won’t be in stores for at least another month. Google is showing actual Pixel 6 devices in its only retail store in the world, and it’s sending some customers custom Pixel 6-branded potato chips. The kind you can eat. While that’s happening out in public, we also have plenty of Pixel 6 leaks going around, including some bizarre Pixel 6 processor findings.

The Pixel 5 compromise

Google’s Pixel 6 marketing efforts might be clever, but they’re not supposed to reveal any real secrets about the phone. Google is just trying to remind people looking at the iPhone 13 series that other choices exist. That the Pixel 6 will have a bold new design, complete with a camera makeover. And that Google is making its custom chips.

The Google Tensor SoC is probably the best thing about the Pixel 6 series. Google confirmed in early August the rumors that said it’s making its own processor for mobile devices. After last year’s Pixel 5 disappointment, that’s certainly great news. Here’s a reminder of that, a benchmark comparison between the late 2020 Pixel 5 and the brand new iPhone 13 Pro:

Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 13 Pro
Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 13 Pro Geekbench 5 benchmark scores. Image source: Geekbench 5

Hopefully, Google’s chips will evolve like Apple’s silicon did over the years. But we don’t expect the first-gen Tensor to outperform Apple’s A15 Bionic. That said, the Pixel 6 SoC might deliver a configuration unlike anything else available from other Android flagships.

The leaked Pixel 6 processor specs

That said, xda-developers discovered what appears to be a Pixel 6 Pro benchmark test result from Geekbench 5.

That’s where things get strange, as Google’s Tensor chip seems to have two Cortex-X1 cores. Last year, Arm unveiled its next-gen reference designs for the chips that will power 2021 Android flagships. We speculated at the time that the Pixel 6 custom processor will take advantage of the 1-3-4 configuration of future eight-core chips.

The Cortex-X1 would be the most powerful core in that arrangement. Vendors would pair it with two Cortex-A78 cores and four Cortex-A55 cores. The first four cores would handle tasks that require performance, while the A55 are efficiency cores.

But if this finding is correct, Google might go for a 2-2-4 configuration, which will include two powerful X1 cores. That might sound exciting, as nobody in the industry put two X1 cores in a flagship Android. But there’s no reason to start the party just yet. The other two performance cores aren’t last year’s A78 cores. Instead, Google has opted for two A76 cores. The four efficiency cores are still the expected A55.

Xda says it extracted the information from a source with access to the Pixel 6 Pro. The source also verified the Pixel 6 benchmark finding. Assuming Google didn’t intentionally try to obfuscate things, here’s the Tensor configuration in the Pixel 6 phones:

  • 2x ARM Cortex-X1 clocked at 2.802GHz
  • 2x ARM Cortex-A76 clocked at 2.253GHz
  • 4x ARM Cortex-A55 clocked at 1.80GHz

Assuming these are the real Pixel 6 processor specs, Google will explain everything during the upcoming hardware event. Google should unveil the Pixel 6 in full in October, although we don’t have a launch date yet.

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.