The Snapdragon line allows the qualcomm lead the SoC market for mobile phones, but the arrival of chips Google Tensor, which will make their debut in Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, seems to shake this hegemony a little. The company tries to show that this is not quite the case, however: soon after the announcement of these devices, Qualcomm released a note to “calm down” the market.
Not that Tensor chips were developed to debunk the Snapdragon line. Far from it. In the market, the concern is that these chips will make Google move away from Qualcomm, which would be bad news for investors in the latter.
That’s because Qualcomm chips have always been present in the Pixel line. The change suggests to the market that Google is not satisfied with these SoCs, to the point of going for its own solution. The effect was immediate: Qualcomm’s share prices fell after the Pixel 6 line was announced. Little, but they did.
What is special about Tensor chips?
If Google developed Tensor chips to “rock” the semiconductor market, that motivation was not implied. What is clear, for now, is that the project is part of the company’s advances in the field of artificial intelligence.
To the gadgetRick Osterloh, Google’s head of hardware, explained that the chip has ARM architecture and was designed around a TPU (Tensor Processing Unit) — basically, a type of integrated circuit that has specific features for machine learning.
Google has been using TPUs for some time on its servers through TensorFlow, an open source platform specific to machine learning-based projects. The name Tensor comes from there; until then, the new chip was known only by the code name Whitechapel.
Machine learning is even present in the Tensor’s image signal processor (ISP). It is no coincidence that one of the areas that should benefit from the new development is cameras.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones will have new sets of cameras, but part of the advances made in photography and filming will come from the Tensor. Thanks to the chip, the Pixel 6 will be able, for example, to record a video using two cameras at the same time, the main one with normal exposure and the wide angle with a faster shutter speed.
According to Osterloh, the smartphone will also be able to run multiple machine learning models in real time to identify what’s going on in the scene — such as a person moving quickly — and thus apply the most appropriate setting. In this way, the risk of the photo of a child who moves a lot becoming blurry drops considerably.
These are just examples. Google sees important advances in a number of other applications, including real-time speech recognition and speech translation.
Overall, the company intends, with Tensor, to optimize everything that was difficult or impossible to do with third-party chips (ie Qualcomm’s SoCs), in part because these units are not task-focused specific.
Will it work? We’ll see with Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
Qualcomm: relationship with Google does not change
Qualcomm isn’t concerned about Google’s advances in the semiconductor space. Or try to convey an image that you are not. Soon after details about the Pixels 6 devices were revealed, the company released a note aimed at investors to explain that the partnership with Google is maintained.
Probably Qualcomm refers to the Pixel 5a, which is expected for this month and should bring Snapdragon 765G chip.
Although without giving details, Qualcomm also referred to future products. One of the possibilities is that the company will supply chips for a supposed “Pixel Watch”, a watch whose launch has been rumored at least since 2018.
With information: Android Central.