Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro use 5G modem made by Samsung, sidestepping Qualcomm

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro use 5G modem made by Samsung, sidestepping Qualcomm
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the first Google phones to use a custom-build chipset, sidestepping Qualcomm in a bold and unexpected way. The company had some serious help in designing and building the Tensor chip from the other big silicon manufacturer and Qualcomm antagonist - Samsung.

Now, there’s a new report showing that Google decided to go all-in and try to skip using Qualcomm components in the new Pixels. TechInsides has published an interesting article about Pixel 6 Pro’s 5G modem, and yeah - you’ve guessed it right - it’s made by Samsung.

It turns out that the Pixel 6 Pro uses the Samsung-made Shannon A5123 5G modem, Shannon 5511 sub-6GHz FR1 transceiver package, and the Shannon 5710 FR2 mmWave transceiver. The latter is missing from non-US versions of the Pixel 6 Pro.

The guys at TechInsides also found out that some of the blocks inside the Tensor silicon are the same as the ones used in Samsung’s Exynos processors. If we take into account the fact that the OLED panels used for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are supplied by Samsung, the cameras on both phones use Samsung’s ISCOCELL sensors, and the RAM and storage are also probably Samsung-made, it becomes clear that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are Samsung phones in disguise. The Pixels are also the first big-brand devices that don't rely on Qualcomm silicon for their 5G solutions.

What makes these two different from your regular Galaxy S device is the software (and the design). Google has designed its new Pixel lineup (albeit with the help of Samsung) to offer a different software experience and to showcase Android 12’s most innovative features.

Google Pixel 6 Tensor chip explained

If you want to dive deeper into Google’s new silicon, check out our Google's Tensor chipset explained: Core Pixel features amplified article. You can also continue reading and find the TL;DR version below.

The CPU module of the Tensor uses Arm-based architecture - two high-performance Cortex-X1 cores with clock speeds of 2.8GHz, two midrange A76 cores at 2.25GHz, and four small, high-efficiency A55 cores at 1.8GHz.

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The CPU is integrated with a 20-core GPU chip - the Mali-G78 MP20, and there’s also a Tensor Processing Unit machine learning unit, a new ISP to take care of image processing, as well as 8MB system cache, and 4MB CPU L3 cache.

Our take

To sum it all up, Google has developed an interesting solution to rival other companies with “custom-made” Arm-based chipsets. The obvious target here is Apple and the Bionic SoC, and the sheer amount of L3 cache speaks for itself.

It also looks like the time of custom chipsets is nigh, as every big smartphone manufacturer is trying to steer away from cookie-cutter Qualcomm solution, and design something entirely new. Samsung has been pushing its Exynos line despite all the negative feedback through the years, and now everyone’s excited about the AMD partnership and the potential behind the RDNA GPU core.

Huawei has its Kirin SoC, and even though the trade ban hit the company hard, the latest iterations of the system were on par with Qualcomm’s offerings. It’s only natural for Google to try and take a bite out of that pie. And for a first-gen processor, the Tensor is pretty amazing. Just imagine what’s coming next with the Pixel 7 lineup.

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