Sources close to the production lines report that Google is working again with Samsung on the development of its next Tensor 2 chip which should logically equip the Pixel 7. The first Tensor chip, optimized for the Pixel 6, was engraved in 5 nm. This time around, Google would have chosen to switch to the Samsung 4nm manufacturing node for better power efficiency and presumably better performance.
The first generation did not quite reach the benchmark scores of the Snapdragon 888 chips, but they had the merit of excelling in many machine learning tasks, thanks to specialized enclaves of the chip designed by the firm. According to DDaily.co.kr, quoted by Android Authority, Samsung has already started mass production of the Tensor 2 chip. The other info is that Samsung has made huge progress on production efficiency.
The Tensor 2 chip will be engraved in 4 nm by Samsung, with a higher yield
Producing chips, moreover with more technical manufacturing notes, is a real challenge. It is indeed necessary to chain a multitude of processes, such as masking, etching, and the doping of very precise zones, all while approaching real fundamental limits which complicate manufacturing. For example, the size of some elements approaches the wavelength of the light used in the engraving process, which impacts the accuracy of the plots.
Not to mention the fact that the alignment between the different stages can vary enough that many chips are ultimately inoperative. As a result, on the same wafer – the monocrystalline silicon disk on which the chips are engraved – only part of the chips will end up in a smartphone. The rest is, depending on the case, scrapped or recycled in less efficient products after deactivating some of the defective functionalities.
The fact that Samsung has managed, on a new, more technical process, to increase production efficiency is excellent news: it means that manufacturing costs will paradoxically drop, and that Samsung will therefore be able to deliver the chips at a lower price. If all this is confirmed, this therefore implies a significantly lower manufacturing cost for the Pixel 7, which will be reflected, we hope, in the selling price.
For now, we don’t know exactly when Google plans to launch the Pixel 7. However, we can expect more to be known by October 2022.