Everything we know about the Pixel 7 chip

Everything we know about the Pixel 7 chip

We know a lot about the upcoming Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, but the chipset that will power these phones remains a bit of a mystery. Whether it was a benefit or a curse, Google sticks to its custom chips, and the Pixel 7 should debut with a new incarnation of the Tensor with the GS201. And like last year, what we know is quite remarkable.

So far, leaks on the upcoming Tensor GS201 have not happened at the same rate as with the original Tensor chipset. As early as April 2021, we knew quite a bit about the original GS101, but Google has managed to stay on a stronger course this year by restricting us and filling the spec table with loads of “unknown” labels.

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Specifications

For those who only want a table, go ahead:

The codename of the development board Cloudripper
Model number GS201
Cores 2x “super-large”, 2x large, 4x small Cortex-A55
GPU Unknown
Production node 4 nm Samsung PLP
Modem g5300b
Other functions Unknown

The second generation Tensor GS201 will be manufactured by Samsung on a 4nm node using what is known as panel-level packaging. This is a complicated way of saying chips will be cut from a square wafer rather than a round one, which reduces waste. This likely won’t make much of a difference to chip performance in actual devices, but it’s clever and can cut costs – potentially useful when we’re still in the middle of a chip shortage.

According to some recent depressions in the Pixel 7 Pro prototype prototype boot logs, the Tensor GS201 may still retain the 2 + 2 + 4 core cluster configuration that the original GS101 used, with two “super-large” cores, two more typical large cores, and four small cores. Log details indicate that small cores in GS201 maybe still be Cortex A55s, given that the log contains information about a workaround implemented specifically for them. These are the same small cores that were used in the original GS101 Tensor chipset and the design that dates back to 2017.

It is unclear what design the other cores in GS201 might have. The last generation Tensor used ARM Cortex-X1s for its “super-large” cores and A76 for its large cores. As chipset competitors have moved to the X2, we power see X2s for large cores on GS201, although this has not been confirmed and there are several generations of core designs that Google or Samsung can choose to replace the A76 if they wish.

No wonder the GS201 will be paired again with the Samsung modem, according to details guessed in earlier competitions. The specific model noticed this time is the g5300b. If Samsung follows the same naming convention as on the previous Tensor, it could be related to an Exnyos Modem 5300 variant that has yet to be officially announced.

According to one report, mass production of the chipset is expected to begin in June 2022.

Other functions

Smartphone chipsets aren’t just a core list; other details in them may affect performance. One of the biggest reasons Google decided to create its own chipset with the original Tensor was due to improved machine learning applications. As ambient computing technology advances, so-called heterogeneous computing – which means moving specialized workloads to different or customized pieces of hardware, not just general purpose CPUs – is likely to have a greater impact on perceived device performance than large single-threaded gains. It’s not just about one or two big benchmarks, but how we actually use our phones. More and more, this includes things like speech recognition, translation, fancy camera features, AR / VR, and other more specialized workflows. For that, you need more than a handful of the latest ARM cores and GPU.


The original Tensor contained parts of Google’s HDRNet imaging pipeline in hardware, providing more specialization and direct performance to Google workloads than a general-purpose ISP can. Google also gave it a dedicated security core (paired with a separate Titan M2 chip running “Trusty OS”). While details like these have yet to be leaked to the GS201, it’s safe to bet that Google will continue to add these kinds of highly specialized changes. After all, such features are the only reason a company would decide to make a custom smartphone chipset. Otherwise, Google would just use something from Qualcomm as it has done in the past.

The details are yet to be leaked, the GS201 will almost certainly have further optimizations and improvements to Google’s heterogeneous computing strategy, implementing other new machine and machine learning features in hardware where it can be done faster and more efficiently. On I / O, all Google has said about the upcoming chipset is that it will bring “even more AI breakthroughs and helpful personalized speech, photography, video and security experiences.” And while the original Tensor GS101 was largely based on Samsung’s Exynos designs, we can see future models like the GS201 deviate from that base over time and as Google’s requirements change.


It’s also worth noting that the Google 2 + 2 + 4 core configuration is unique. Until now, other chipset makers have not followed in Google’s lead by including more than one “super-large” core. In an interview with Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica, Phil Carmack of Google (vice president and general manager of Google Silicon) said that this particular configuration was chosen to increase performance under “medium” load as it is able to allocate more resources per task to do this quickly, returning to a low-power state faster:

“When dealing with a steady-state problem, when, say, the CPU is under less load but still moderately severe, we will have dual X1 running and at this performance level it will be the most efficient … Maybe use two reduced frequency X1s so that they are very efficient, but still work with a fairly heavy load. double X1 “.

Devices

The GS201 Tensor is expected to debut with the Pixel 7 series of phones which will include the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. If history is any indicator, we can see that it will also arrive in a future Pixel A-series (possibly a Pixel 7a in 2023). Google also plans to roll out a Tensor-powered tablet, though it’s unclear whether it will use the GS201 or another chip as it is due to land in 2023.

Another hardware code name has been linked to the GS201, but based on the name itself – Ravenclaw, a combination of “Raven” (Pixel 6) and “claw” for the big cat names from the Pixel 7 series (Cheeta and Panther) – that it could be a test device that is to include Pixel 7 hardware inside the Pixel 6 housing. Google used a similar naming scheme for the Pixel 5, which had Pixel 6 internals.

Made by Google

As the GS201 goes into production in June 2022, the leak rate for the upcoming chip is likely to increase soon, and Google also has a hijack history for the leak season to outline its own key features. Odds are we’ll find out more soon. The longest wait in both cases is the anticipated Made by Google event this fall, when the Pixel 7 series is set to kick off.

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