Pixel 6 Code Hints Google Is Already Working on a New Tensor Chip

Pixel 6 Code Hints Google Is Already Working on a New Tensor Chip
Next year's Pixel 7 might look slightly different, but it's likely to continue utilising Google's TPU chip. (Photo: Sam Rutherford / Gizmodo)

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are just now arriving on buyers’ doorsteps, and we’re already talking about what’s next for Google’s flagship Android lineup.

Evidence points to a next-gen Tensor chip in the Pixel 7. According to 9to5Google, whose tear-apart team tinkered with the apps built into the Pixel 6, there’s a clear indicator that a second-generation TPU, or Tensor Processing Unit, is in the works.

The team found distinct references to a new Pixel-related codename. It’s called “Cloudripper,” though it’s not an alias for the next Pixel model. Instead, the team believes it’s the name for the development board used to test hardware similar to what’s inside the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro had their own codename, “Slider.”

Cloudripper appears connected to the second-gen version of Google Tensor, under the model number “GS201.” It seems like the obvious successor to the current generation, considering the Pixel 6’s chip was referred to as “GS101.” Former XDA Developers editor-in-chief and noted tinkerer Mishaal Rahman also discovered a mention of GS201 in a teardown of the recently published Android source code.

Cloudripper is referenced in the Pixel 6’s apps, which is why it seems “highly likely” that Google is already prepping for the next smartphone. But it’s not immediately clear what we’re going to see from the arrival of this chip or what it will improve.

It does seem to be too soon to be talking about a theoretical chip when those who purchased the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have yet to receive their new smartphones. Buyers are facing supply shortages and delays, with the Google Store warning buyers this week that there may be “long delivery times.”

But at the very least this indicates that Google plans to build on its current chip with a next-gen version. If you’re not sure whether to buy a Pixel 6 — after all, with new processors come new problems — then you can rest assured that Google will be trying to win you over again next year, or whenever the Pixel 7 makes its debut.