What happened to Google’s Tensor processor in Pixel 5?

What happened to Google's Tensor processor in Pixel 5?

The Google Pixel 6 features a 6.4-inch FHD+ display and runs on the all-new Google Tensor SoC. It has an upgraded camera system, exclusive software features, and offers some of the best hardware Google has ever produced. However, it turns out that Google originally wanted last year’s Pixel 5 to be equipped with a Tensor chipset instead. The news comes from “conversations” that YouTuber Marques Brownlee had with Google representatives (skip to 29:41 in the video below). “They were actually planning on Pixel 5 being the first phone with Tensor. But then with Covid and the supply chain issues and a bunch of things getting in the way, at the last second they kinda had to bail on that,” Brownlee claimed.

We might have seen a Tensor-equipped Pixel a year ago if not for a slew of difficulties. The Pixel 5 was supposed to be released with Google’s Tensor chipset. According to YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Google decided against it owing to a variety of reasons. The new Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the first phones to have the company’s Tensor processor, marking a significant break from the company’s long-standing dependence on Qualcomm as the Android SoC overlord.

“But they still wanted to drop a new phone, so they just put a Snapdragon 765G in it, shipped it, called it a day, and kept putting their heads down for Pixel 6.” This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard about a Pixel 5 with a Tensor processor though. XDA-Developers and a couple of other sources previously reported on evidence of a Tensor-equipped Pixel 5 that never saw the light of day. It’s unclear whether this version of the Tensor processor would be identical to the chipset found inside the Pixel 6 line. It may have been a little too early for Arm to offer the Cortex-X1, Cortex-A78, and Mali-G78 parts to Google.

Then again, Huawei’s Mate 40 series debuted with the Kirin 9000 late last year, featuring the latest Arm GPU. So it’s possible that the adoption of new Arm parts might not have been one of the obstacles for Google. Either way, a Tensor processor in the Pixel 5 would’ve likely been a major upgrade over the Snapdragon 765G in terms of performance. The Pixel 5 was actually a step back in terms of CPU and GPU power compared to the Pixel 4’s Snapdragon 855 SoC. Nevertheless, we’re guessing the extra year of development time likely resulted in a more refined experience and a couple of extra features.

The News Highlights

  • What happened to Google’s Tensor processor in Pixel 5?
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