Google Tensor vs Snapdragon 888 series

Google Tensor vs Snapdragon 888 series, the battle of chipsets in 2022. The Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro are the first two devices to come with Google’s custom Tensor silicon chip instead of the mainstream Snapdragon 888. For the first time, a Pixel smartphone is getting powered by Google’s own custom chipset known as “Tensor”. Thus, Google has joined the likes of Samsung, Apple, and Huawei in the use of custom chips.

In terms of the built process, the Google Tensor and Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ chip are both built on a 5-nanometer process. To the best of their respective abilities, both are battery efficient but not as effective as the N5P process used by TSMC in the iPhone 13 series. Google Tensor vs Snapdragon 888 vs A15 Bionic: Best Mobile Chipset in 2021

Which is better Google Tensor or Snapdragon 888? The GeekBench test and CPU portion of Speed Test G show that the Tensor’s CPU is more in line with the Snapdragon 865 series than the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100.

Is the Google Tensor chip good? When benchmarking CPU workloads, you’ll find that both Qualcomm and Samsung eke out a small lead over Tensor. Still, Tensor is more than powerful enough to handle these tasks with ease. The GPU in the Tensor does manage to put up a more commendable showing, thanks to the extra cores compared to the Exynos 2100.

Google could have bought chipsets from long-time partner Qualcomm or even purchased an Exynos model from its new friends at Samsung. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun. Instead, the company worked with Samsung to develop its own chipset using a combination of off-the-shelf components and a little of its in-house machine learning (ML) silicon.

The Tensor SoC is a little different from other top-end Android chipsets that were available in 2021. We already have plenty of information to dive into an on-paper comparison between the latest chipsets from Qualcomm (and Samsung too while we’re at it), as well as some benchmark info too. How is the Google Tensor vs Snapdragon 888 series chipset face-off shaping up? Let’s take a look at how they stack up.

Google Tensor vs Snapdragon 888 series specs

Although next-gen SoCs from Qualcomm and Mediatek have been announced, the Google Tensor chip is designed to compete with the previous-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 series and Samsung Exynos 2100 flagship chipsets. So we’ll use these as the basis for our comparison.

Google TensorSnapdragon 888
CPU2x Arm Cortex-X1 (2.80GHz)
2x Arm Cortex-A76 (2.25GHz)
4x Arm Cortex-A55 (1.80GHz)
1x Arm Cortex-X1 (2.84GHz, 3GHz for Snapdragon 888 Plus)
3x Arm Cortex-A78 (2.4GHz)
4x Arm Cortex-A55 (1.8GHz)
GPUArm Mali-G78 MP20Adreno 660
MLTensor Processing UnitHexagon 780 DSP
Media DecodeH.264, H.265, VP9, AV1H.264, H.265, VP9
Modem4G LTE
5G sub-6Ghz & mmWave
5G sub-6Ghz & mmWave
7.5Gbps download
3Gbps upload
(integrated Snapdragon X60)

As we’d expect given the nature of their relationship, Google’s Tensor SoC leans heavily on Samsung’s technology found in its latest Exynos processor. The modem, for one, is believed to be borrowed from the Exynos 2100. Meanwhile, the two chipsets share the same Mali-G78 GPU, albeit with the Google SoC offering a 20-core version and the Exynos topping out at 14 cores. The similarities are said to extend down to similar AV1 media decoding hardware support.

On paper, we’re expecting better graphical performance than the Exynos 2100, but it’s the comparison to the Snapdragon 888 series that’s a different story. Still, that will be a relief for those hoping for proper flagship tier performance from the Pixel 6. However, we’re anticipating that the chip’s Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) will offer even more competitive machine learning and AI capabilities. The Google Tensor SoC seems to be competitive across CPU, GPU, modem, and other technologies.

Google’s 2+2+4 CPU setup is a more odd design choice. It’s worth exploring in more detail, which we’ll get to, but the prominent point is that two powerhouse Cortex-X1 CPUs should give the Google Tensor SoC more grunt for single-threads but the older Cortex-A76 cores may make the chip a weaker multitasker. It’s an interesting combination that harkens back to Samsung’s ill-fated Mongoose CPU setups. However, there are questions to be answered about this design’s power and thermal efficiency, which Google has attempted to answer already.

The Snapdragon 888+ chip uses the latest Qualcomm’s X60 5G modem with 7.5 Gbps top download speed and 3 Gbps upload speed. However, Google is yet to reveal the exact modem in the Tensor Soc but we do know it is 5G enabled.

Snapdragon 888+ vs Google Tensor: CPU and GPU

According to Google, the Tensor chip is 80% faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset in the Pixel 5. But again, that was a mid-range processor and doesn’t really justify how powerful or fast the Tensor chip is. It would have been better if Google had compared it to the present flagship chipsets and not to a mid-range chip of last year.

Nevertheless, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ maintains the octa-core 1+3+4 CPU architecture, while Google Tensor adopted the octa-core 2+2+4 CPU setup. Qualcomm upgraded the Snapdragon 888+ primary CPU core from 2.84 GHz to 2.995 GHz.

For the Google Tensor chip, at its peak, the highest CPU is clocked @2.80 GHz. Thus, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+’s CPU performance is better than Tensor.

And when it comes to graphics, the Google Tensor has a 20-core GPU (suspected to be ARM-Mali G78 mc20). But the Snapdragon 888+ with Adreno 660 is the industry’s leading Android GPU. Although the Tensor’s GPU can perform almost at par with Adreno 660 it still trails behind.

Snapdragon 888+ vs Google Tensor: AI & ML

One key area where Google Tensor leads is AI & ML. For a very long time now, Google dominates the AI and ML sectors. And that exactly was an added reason why Google needed its own chipset in its Pixel devices.

For example, the Pixel 6 series are smarter and it can only get better from here judging by the fact that the Tensor chipset will continue to be better as well.

Going by counts, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ with Hexagon 780 AI processor delivers up to 32TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) but Google didn’t reveal any details.

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