Google says Pixel 6, 6 Pro coming this year with custom AI acceleration
For now, tedious Apple-grade teasing
Google today said the latest iteration of its Android smartphones, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, are coming this fall.
So far the internet advertising goliath has only offered a glimpse of the gear: no official specifications have been released.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro look like your standard high-end 6.ish-inch aluminium-framed smartphones. The Pixel 6 Pro is expected to sport a 6.7" 120Hz screen, 5G connectivity, and a raised bank of cameras on the back that includes a wide-angle main sensor and one with a 4X optical-zoom telephoto lens.
We're told the Pixel 6 duo will use Google's homegrown system-on-chip called Tensor. This is said to include a mix of CPUs and GPU cores, which could be and likely are licensed from other designers, plus Google's own custom AI acceleration engine. The web giant has experience in this area with its TPU machine-learning cores for servers and network edge devices. It would appear Google has made a mobile version of its TPU technology and stuck it into a system-on-chip to boost the performance of certain apps running on its Pixels.
For instance, we're told "Google's computational photography models" and speech-processing code – think voice commands, dictation, and translation – will benefit from this hardware acceleration. Here's the CEO barely containing himself:
So excited to share our new custom Google Tensor chip, which has been 4 yrs in the making (📎 for scale)! Tensor builds off of our 2 decades of computing experience and it’s our biggest innovation in Pixel to date. Will be on Pixel 6 + Pixel 6 Pro in fall. https://t.co/N95X6gFxLf pic.twitter.com/wHiEJRHJwy— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) August 2, 2021
Google hasn't said who it working with to see the chip through to manufacture. It could be long-term partner and chip designer Qualcomm, it could be design-and-fab giant Samsung. There's some more teasing here from Google if you're interested.
- Google to venture where Apple soared and Microsoft crashed – physical retail
- Chromebooks fighting for mind share at PC makers with higher-margin Windows 11 machines in the lead, says IDC
- Google bestows improved device management tools, authentication options on Chrome OS admins
- Samsung brags that its latest imaging sensor has the ittiest-bittiest cam pixels in the world
Everyone in big tech, from Apple and Amazon to Google and Microsoft, has the engineering and financial resources now to design their own chips, and have them manufactured by foundries like TSMC. This is just the continuation of that.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro will also sport a Titan M2 security chip, a follow-up to earlier Titan chips in Pixel phones. Google claimed its latest Pixels will have "the most layers of hardware security in any phone," and claims this has been checked by an independent third party. Pixels are also among the first in line to get Android security updates from Google
As for the user interface, the new Pixels will run Android 12 and its Material You system, which promises automated color settings and a better system menu, and not much beyond that. And the Pixel 6 and Pro 6 will come in five classic deluxe high-quality designer luxury premium select gourmet colors, and be priced at the premium end of the market – think four figures for the top-end handset. ®