Google and Qualcomm to continue working together despite new Tensor chip

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NEW DELHI: Tech giant Google may not have ditched Qualcomm chips just yet. The company announced its new Pixel 6 smartphones yesterday, which run on proprietary Google Tensor chips, leading to speculation that the company had the premiere chip maker.

Instead, Qualcomm told CNBC that the two companies will continue working together in current and future products built on its Snapdragon platform.

While neither Google nor Qualcomm, have said anything about what these partnerships will be, it’s possible that Google will continue sourcing modems and other components from Qualcomm. The Android maker has used the name “Tensor” for its Tensor Processing Unit, which is used for complex artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) computing in the cloud computing space.

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The Google Tensor chip is also supposed to bring more of a phone’s functions to on-device. Smartphones today have to tap into the cloud in order to perform complex calculations, especially for things like voice assistants. Apple brought more of Siri’s functions on-device with iOS 15 earlier this year, and it’s possible that Google will bring similar changes to the Google Assistant.

Tapping the cloud for performing operations also leads to privacy concerns, as phones often have to use the microphone, camera etc. for gathering data for these functions. For instance, voice assistants are always listening for their wake word, which leads to questions about whether they are recording all conversations that we have. Doing operations on-device will mean that even if they do listen, they don’t need to send the data to the cloud and it remains on the phone’s storage instead.

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