Robert Triggs/Android Authority
While the Google Pixel 7a has yet to hit store shelves, we’re fast approaching the launch of the new generation of Mountain View’s flagship smartphone – the Google Pixel 8. There will undoubtedly be new and exciting features galore when this phone arrives, but that’s it. All of that will be the highly anticipated Tensor G3 processor.
Google is keeping behind its own Tensor G2 chip, which powers a bunch of the brand’s latest products like the Pixel Tablet, for now. But we can learn a little bit about what the slides will look like and when they will appear based on the information currently circulating around the web.
Will there be a Google Tensor G3 processor and when will it arrive?
Chris Carlon/Android Authority
With every major smartphone release dating back to 2021’s Pixel 6 series, Google debuted a new Tensor processor. The upcoming Pixel 8 range is expected to follow suit. According to a leaked roadmap of upcoming products you’ve got Android AuthorityGoogle’s “zuma” chip (aka Tensor G3) will appear in the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
Google usually releases its flagship Pixel phones in October, when we can expect to see the Pixel 8 and its Tensor G3 processor. Although we don’t have a confirmed date yet, we’re starting this month to launch the chip.
If the Tensor G2 is anything to go by, the Tensor G3 could also power a wide range of Google products throughout 2024. The G2 ended up being the A-series budget smartphone for 2023, the Pixel tablet, and the first generation of Pixel Fold, providing AI in chip processing for a variety of form factors. It is very likely that at least some of these products will be updated in 2024.
What are the features of Tensor G3?
Historically, Google’s Tensor hasn’t followed the traditional cadence of CPU and GPU upgrades, so predicting exactly what components will make it into the next major chipset is very difficult. However, some rumors and leaks can point us in the right direction.
The biggest tip comes from Mishaal Rahmanwhich discovered support for advanced memory protection for future chips in the Android 14 developer preview. This feature requires the Memory Tagging Extension (MTE) supported by ARMV9 CPUs.
Arm debuted the ARMV9 architecture with Cortex-X2, Cortex-A710, and Cortex-A510 CPUs in 2021, all of which will be an upgrade over the Cortex-X1, A78, A76, and A55 setup used by the original Tensor and Tensor G2. In addition, the latest Arm Cortex-X3 and A-715, as well as upcoming next-generation parts, are all MTE compatible as well.
Theoretically, Google could use any of these off-the-shelf cores in the Tensor G3, though the brand has historically stuck to older, and therefore cheaper, components. However, rumors point to a 1x Cortex-X3, 4x A715 and 4x A510 CPU configuration for the G3. This should push performance much closer and perhaps marginally to the current Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, at least in the CPU department. Such a move could also point to a 64-bit-only design, which would be the first Android version and would match Google’s push with 64-bit-only software for the Pixel 7.
Improved gaming performance
Robert Triggs/Android Authority
The same rumor points to a move to an Arm Mali-G715 GPU in an octa-core configuration. This would be a nice upgrade to the Tensor G2’s Arm Mali-G710 seven-core setup, which currently doesn’t rival the best in the graphics realm. Arm says there’s a 15% increase in ISO operation performance and two-times machine learning improvement with the G715 compared to the G710.
However, the octa-core setup will be smaller than the 11-core version in the MediaTek Dimensity 9200. The performance improvement also indicates that the Tensor G3 will come behind the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in gaming performance. However, it remains to be seen how that plays out in relation to real-world gaming.
The lack of Immortalis branding in the Tensor G3’s Mali-G715 rumor indicates a lack of ray tracing support, which puts it behind current flagship silicon. While it’s not an essential feature (there aren’t any Western games to play yet), this suggests that serious mobile gamers won’t be too impressed by the Pixel 8 series, despite its upgrades. If it turns out to be true, of course.
artificial intelligence and more
Rita El Khoury / The Android Authority
Pixel 7 camera bump
Finally, it’s the machine learning capabilities that have kept the Tensor range competitive with traditionally more powerful phones powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and Apple’s Bionic A16. We expect Google to improve the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) for the upcoming chip.
Unfortunately, Google keeps the secret of its TPU material very closely guarded. But we can probably expect improvements to improve the efficiency of offline voice tasks, such as real-time language translation. Additional improvements to the image signal processor for HDR and object segmentation are also likely, to keep the Pixel 8 series in contention for one of the best camera phones.
According to rumors, Tensor G3 will be manufactured on Samsung’s 4nm production line. This is an improvement over the older 5nm process used by the Tensor G2 and should help the chip run more efficiently (for better battery life) and cooler (for longer sustained performance.)
However, Samsung’s 4nm process and lower yields were behind the overheating issues with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. So it remains to be seen if Samsung can catch up or overtake the TSMC N4 node that MediaTek and Qualcomm are using for their latest flagship chips. Based on the ongoing modding process at Samsung Semiconductor, it’s not a given that the Tensor G3 will be free from the thermal issues that plague Samsung’s 2022 foundry graduates. However, Samsung is now working on its third iteration of 4nm, which has apparently seen significant yield improvements that help close the cap on its manufacturing competition. Either way, the cooling chip is very high on the Tensor G3’s wish list.
What we want to see from Google Tensor G3
Since there have been no CPU upgrades since the first-generation chipset, the leap to Arm Cortex-X3 and the company would go a long way to addressing concerns that the Tensor series was lagging behind the competition. Upgrading the GPU to a newer generation would also help, even without including fledgling ray tracing support at this point. But your biggest complaint with Tensor so far has been the high temperatures and battery drain, which also seems likely Google could address by moving to a smaller manufacturing node.
If the above turns out to be true, Google will check pretty much everything off the Tensor G3 wishlist. In that case, there are even more reasons to be excited about the arrival of the Pixel 8 series later this year.
What do you want from the Tensor G3 in the Pixel 8 series?
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