Qualcomm Said it Will Continue Working With Google Despite Move to Tensor Chips

Google Tensor is built on the Tensor Processing Unit that has done wonders for Google in the data center and cloud computing spaces.


Yesterday, Google said it will be building its own processors for the Pixel 6 smartphone, built on the Tensor chips it already has for the data center space. This sparked rumours that the company is abandoning Qualcomm forever, but that might not be the case. According to a report by CNBC, the American chip giant said that the companies will be working together going forward, though it didn’t say exactly what kind of partnership the two companies will have. Qualcomm said it will be working closely with Google for current and future “products” based on the “Snapdragon platform”. 

The chip Google announced, called Google Tensor, is essentially a take on the Tensor Processing Unit, which Google built for implementation in cloud computing. Google Tensor is a system-on-chip (SoC) like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips, and it will power the Pixel 6 devices which launch this October. The company claimed that the Tensor chip will bring improvements to video and photo processing on phones, two areas that have been a cornerstone for Pixel smartphones so far. It also has dedicated CPU and GPU units, along with an image signal processor (ISP). 

At the moment, Android smartphones send a lot of data to the cloud for various kinds of processing. With the Tensor chips, Google will be able to bring more of this processing on-device. Google hasn’t said what all will happen on the device, but it’s safe to assume that the Google Assistant will be an important element in these developments. Processing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms on-device could improve user privacy.

Google may take cues from Apple, which recently improved Siri’s functioning on iPhones. The company said Siri will be able to process more commands on-device, which not only improves privacy but also makes the voice assistant faster. Bringing more processing on-device will reduce dependence on connectivity, which obviously means voice assistants like Siri will become more useful. 

Further, Apple also ditched Intel for its Macbooks recently, building its own M1 chip. Speculations are that Google Tensor might soon make it to Chromebooks and Nest smart home devices, bringing closer integration between Google’s ecosystem of products.