Google’s Tensor SoC on Par with Snapdragon 865+ in Raw Performance?
There’s a lot of hype around the newly unveiled Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The Pixel series in previous iterations have often set the benchmark for other Android phones. While Google doesn’t enjoy the same lead anymore, it still steals the show in camera performance. This year there was even more excitement owing to the fact that Samsung and Google were working together on a custom SoC for the new Pixel devices.
We know from earlier leaks the kind of hardware the Tensor SoC will feature, and even that is not enough to talk about general performance. However, a recent Geekbench score leak gives more context to the performance conversation.
Google Pixel 6 Pro (2021) vs iPhone XS Max (2018) Geekbench result
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As the Geekbench 5 score suggests, the Pixel 6 Pro is neck and neck with the iPhone XS Max with the A12 SoC from 2018. These scores are also in the same ballpark as the Snapdragon 865+, the last-gen flagship Android SoC.
This tells us that the Tensor SoC is going to be a capable performer, although still lagging in raw performance compared to recent flagships. These figures are in line with expectations after the SoC’s core configuration was leaked. As we reported earlier, Google is prioritizing single-core performance with the Tensor SoC, and the scores show that. Google also could have easily opted for the Snapdragon 888 SoC as they have used Qualcomm chips in their phones before. However as many smartphones vendors have complained recently, Qualcomm chips have become relatively expensive and going the 888 route could have hindered final pricing. The Tensor SoC also helps Google leverage their ML and AI expertise more.
2x Cortex-X1 cores is an interesting choice. The X1 cores are ARM’s most powerful cores yet, and even the Snapdragon 888 chipset (or the Exynos 2100) sports only one such core. This also points towards Google’s general design philosophy with the Pixel devices, which is to provide the smoothest Android experience possible. This explains the use of not one but two very high-performance X1-cores that can potentially do most of the immediate heavy lifting, like the UI elements and other heavy single-threaded applications. Apple also employs two high-performance cores in its chipsets, opting for a 2+4 configuration.
Google certainly has a lot more to show with regards to the upcoming Tensor chip, like the TPU unit for enhanced AI features or the second-gen Titan M2 chips for security. We will probably get to know more about these aspects as the Pixel 6/6 Pro officially launches.