Competition Heats Up in Mobile AI

Google designed its own AI chip for its new smartphone — a snub to Qualcomm, the dominant chip vendor in Android phones.

What’s new: Google debuted the Tensor chip last week along with the global release of the new Pixel 6 smartphones. Company executives say the chip is well over four times faster than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G in the Pixel 5, released last year.

Why It Matters: Advances in chip design and manufacturing are enticing companies with special processing needs to roll their own. Google tailored Tensor to suit its own AI technology while cutting its dependence on an outside supplier. That’s sure to help it make distinctive products. Look for more of the same from makers of all kinds of AI hardware.

We’re thinking: Google controls the Android operating system. The more tightly it binds Tensor and Android, the greater the incentive it has to sell the chip to phone markers, and the harder it will be for Qualcomm and others to compete on performing inference in Android phones.

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