Google Tensor G2 is a 5nm chip, despite what the internet might say

Google Tensor Pixel 6

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • The Google Tensor G2 architecture “includes 5nm.”
  • We saw rumors before the launch of the Pixel 7 series that the G2 would have a 4nm build, but that is not the case.
  • Widespread claims of the Tensor G2 having a 4nm architecture are incorrect.

Some of Android Authority’s eagle-eyed readers correctly spotted in our coverage that the Tensor G2 processor powering the latest Pixel 7 series is built on Samsung Foundry’s 5nm manufacturing process. This, perhaps, is not what many had anticipated, given that the industry’s cutting-edge processors are currently built on 4nm nodes from Samsung and TSMC, and are expected to reach 3nm in the looming next generation.

As such, some publications haven’t done their homework, basing articles on earlier rumors, blind expectations, or simply copying someone else’s incorrect answer. Some commentators have even relied on screenshots from Android hardware apps to confirm their preconceived notions, despite the fact that manufacturing information of this type is not included in Android system files. One particularly hilarious screenshot we’ve seen even has the wrong CPU cores on it. But hey, everyone makes mistakes every now and again.

As is normal business over here, we specifically asked Google for our original article. We have since gone back to the Tensor G2 developer to double-check and put the controversy to rest. A Google spokesperson provided Android Authority with the following response:

We purpose-built Google Tensor G2 for real-world use cases. Our final architecture, which includes 5nm, helped us reach that goal while increasing both performance and power efficiency. This approach also allowed us to add new capabilities while taking a step forward on machine learning with our next generation TPU with G2.

There you have it, straight from the source — Tensor G2 is a 5nm chip. Now, this isn’t a fully comprehensive answer, even at the second time of asking. Google doesn’t tell us the exact manufacturing node employed or who built it (but we know that Samsung is Google’s chief partner). Samsung has two 5nm nodes on its roadmap — the same 5LPE process used for the original Tensor and a newer 5LPP. Unfortunately, we don’t know which Tensor G2 is using.

Even without Google’s confirmation, there were a few clues that 5nm was likely. The lack of a major clock-speed increase, for one. The Arm Cortex-X1 cores in the Tensor G2 run at 2.85GHz, up a measly 50Hz from the original Tensor’s 2.80GHz. You’d expect a bigger jump with the move to a new major node or a notable mention of energy efficiency improvements. Although Google claims to have upgraded all of the Tensor G2 sub-systems to reduce power consumption for everyday workloads, this is different from stating that the processor is built on a more efficient process. Google also doesn’t mention the manufacturing process anywhere in its Pixel 7 or Tensor literature, a hint that it has nothing new to boast about.

Be sure to check Android Authority’s deep dive into the inner workings of Tensor G2 to learn what this all means in the grand scheme of the Pixel 7 series and its competition.

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