Pixel 8’s Tensor G3 to bring performance, GPU improvements: leak

A huge leak revealed a ton of details about Google's next flagship chip

The Pixel 7, 7a and 6a lying on a table.

Google’s upcoming Pixel 8 series will boast improved performance thanks to the company’s Tensor G3 chip, per leaked details.

Like some other major phone makers, Google has gone its own way with Tensor chips in the Pixel line, starting with the Tensor G1 in the Pixel 6 series and Tensor G2 in the Pixel 7 series (and the upcoming Pixel Fold and Tablet). So far, Tensor has generally traded performance for AI capabilities, a move that has received some criticism from those disappointed that the Pixel line doesn’t keep up with the blazing performance of other Android flagships.

However, that may change with the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, due out later this year. Leaker Kamila Wojciechowska, writing for Android Authority, published a massive breakdown of Google’s next Tensor chip, Tensor G3, based on details obtained from a source inside Google. Codenamed ‘zuma,’ Tensor G3 will reportedly sport more recent cores. Wojciechowska says the entire CPU block was “rearchitected” and will use 2022 ARMv9 cores, which should put the performance on par with 2022 flagships.

Tensor G3 sports newer cores

Moreover, Tensor G3 reportedly continues Google’s trend of offering weird core groups. Most chips offer a 4+3+1 layout, with the ‘1’ marking a single big, powerful core, while the others are ‘mid’ or ‘little’ cores intended to handle tasks in a less power-intensive way. Previous Tensor chips used a 4+2+2 layout with four little cores, two mid cores and two big cores. G3, however, allegedly offers a nine-core layout with one big Cortex-X3 core at 3GHz, four mid Cortex-A715 cores at 2.45GHz, and four little Cortex-A510 cores at 2.15GHz. Of course, it remains to be seen how Tensor G3 performs in the real world, but this seems like a big upgrade.

Wojciechowska notes that the newer cores will let Google integrate new security tech, like Arm’s Memory Taggin Extensions (MTE). These can prevent certain memory-based attacks. Other phones already support MTE at a hardware level but haven’t enabled it in Android — Wojciechowska says the Pixel 8 series bootloader appears to be the first to implement it.

Another important change here is that with the move to ARMv9 cores, Tensor G3 will only support 64-bit code. This shouldn’t make a huge difference for Pixel users since Google dropped support for 32-bit apps on Tensor G2, but devices with G2 did still include 32-bit binaries. This won’t be the case for the Pixel 8 series.

Ray-tracing, improved AI and more

Other improvements coming with Tensor G3 include better graphics with 10 Mali-G715 (Immortalis) GPU cores clocked at 890MHz. This should offer better sustained performance but not necessarily better graphics performance over the G2. The Immortalis variant sports ray-tracing capabilities as well.

Tensor G3 reportedly also includes upgrades to the video encoding block, including support for 8K30 decoding and encoding with H.264 and HEVC codecs. For the AV1 codec, Tensor G3 will support up to 4K30 encoding (AV1 decoding remains unchanged at up to 4K60). That will make the Pixel 8 series the first to ship with Av1 encoders. Wojciechowska notes that the Pixel 8 likely won’t support 8K video recording, however, given how much Pixel phones already struggle with thermals for 4K recording (not to mention the strain on storage).

Moving on to AI, the Tensor G3 will sport an improved TPU, codenamed ‘Rio,’ that runs at 1.1GHz. Wojciechowska didn’t have much else to share about it, but did note that the G2 TPU ran at 1GHz. Google claimed it was 60 percent faster in speech and camera tasks than the G1’s TPU, which was also clocked at 1GHz. Despite the modest clock speed bump, Rio will likely prove to be a significant upgrade, though it remains to be seen.

Other changes and improvements detailed by Wojciechowska include an improved digital signal processor (DSP), also called a GXP, which is used for image processing like deblurring and local tone mapping. Tensor G3 will sport a brand new, second-gen GXP (codenamed ‘callisto’) with a similar core configuration and slight speed increase compare to the G2’s first-gen GXP.

Tensor G3 reportedly will include a new version of Samsung’s UFS controller, which means support for UFS 4.0 storage. UFS 4.0 doubles theoretical storage speeds compared to UFS 3.1, as well as boosting efficiency by up to 50 percent.

However, not everything is good news. Tensor G3 will reportedly include a slightly different variant of the Exynos Modem 5300 that’s in the G2. While the 5300 was better than the Tensor G1’s modem, it still has some thermal and power consumption issues.

Ultimately, it looks like the Tensor G3 will be a significant upgrade for Google’s Pixel line. It may not beat the 2023 flagships in benchmarks, but it should be a solid improvement over the Tensor G2.

Source: Android Authority