Google’s Tensor chipsets are often referred to as Google’s own custom chips, but that’s not really the case. So far Tensor chipsets are designed and manufactured in conjunction with Samsung, but it sounds like that won’t be the case for very long. We might even see the first fully-custom Google chipset arrive in 2025 as the Tensor G5.
This news comes from an extensive report from The Information, which details Google’s plans to leave its partnership with Samsung behind. Instead the company is said to have partnered with TSMC, who will handle production using its 3nm manufacturing process.
Apparently the original plan was to release the new solo chip in 2024, under the code name Redondo. Sadly, the handoff to TSMC is only reported to have taken place earlier this year, and the Redondo chip reportedly missed its trial production deadline in the process — and that’s after cutting some features.
Now the plan is to apparently use the Redondo as a test chip, ahead of a fully-custom Tensor G5 that will arrive the following year. This chip is said to be built using TSMC’s 3nm process, and Integrated Fan-Out to help reduce thickness and improve power efficiency — something the Pixel range desperately needs.
Meanwhile, Google has extended its partnership with Samsung for another year, and will be developing the Tensor G4 together. The report claims Google has been replacing Samsung components with its own hardware with each passing generation. That means the chips are slowly evolving away from the Exynos chipsets that preceded them.
It’s claimed that this isn’t the first time a Tensor chipset has been canceled either. “Multiple” Tensors have been canceled in the past two years, including a Tensor-powered Pixelbook that never saw the light of day.
The issue is that Google is struggling to coordinate work between the U.S. and India, which is where most Tensor silicon engineers are based. The group working on the chips is also said to have a high turnover, which is only exacerbating the problem.
Finally, taking full control over its chip design could prove to be beneficial for Google. Google would be in control of every aspect of Pixel development — which includes the chipset and the Android operating system. That could, in theory, allow the company more opportunities to optimize the Tensor G5 for Pixels and Android.
The company could find itself in a similar situation to Apple, whose A-series chips have proven themselves to be miles ahead of third-party chips in terms of performance and efficiency. The company later transferred that philosophy to Macs, with the M-series chips, to great success. Then again, Samsung’s Exynos chips are generally considered to be inferior to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips, so that success isn’t guaranteed.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, and whether Google can help the Tensor chipset achieve its full potential. The chips may not be focussed on high benchmark scores, but there’s no reason why we can’t have top-tier performance and efficiency alongside cutting-edge machine learning and security.
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Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.