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@MrWhosetheboss video reveals Google's Pixel 8 Pro Tensor G3 off-loads all generative AI tasks to the cloud

Google and its Pixel 8 Pro are at the center of another controversy. (Source: Notebookcheck)
Google and its Pixel 8 Pro are at the center of another controversy. (Source: Notebookcheck)
Popular YouTuber @Mrwhosetheboss has singled out the Google Tensor G3 as a major failing of the Pixel 8 Pro. According to the YouTuber, all of the new generative AI features found on the Pixel 8 Pro cannot be processed onboard the device, but need to be off-loaded to the cloud for processing, despite Google pitching the device as being “AI-first.”

The Google Pixel 8 Pro has had a rockier launch than has been typical for the flagship series. Last year’s Pixel 7 Pro won a few high-profile YouTuber “Phone of the Year” awards, including from Arun Maini, who is better known by his handle of @Mrwhosetheboss. While Maini awarded the Pixel 7 Pro his gong for “Best Smartphone of 2022”, he hasn’t been quite so effusive in his praise for the Pixel 8 Pro.

There are many aspects of the Pixel 8 series that Maini praises in his latest video, including its design, the frosted glass finish on the rear of the Pixel 8 Pro, and its advanced software. He also praises the still photo capabilities of the devices, as well as new AI-powered features like Best Photo, Magic Editor and Audio Magic Eraser. However, Maini is less than complimentary about the janky way the Pixel 8 Pro handles zoom when transitioning between lenses, and its artificial-looking video stabilization. But his biggest criticism of the Pixel 8 series is reserved for the Tensor G3 processor.

Maini highlights how the new generative AI features including AI wallpaper and Magic Editor, for example, need a permanent internet connection as these require more processing power than the Tensor G3 SoC can deliver. As Maini explains:

For all of this generative AI stuff, for anything that actually has to use AI to create things like the AI Wallpaper making, the Magic Editor needs a permanent internet connection. [This is] because every action you take needs to be passed through Google’s servers…It feels so sluggish, that you are constantly reminded that it's not running on-device…It really makes you realize that the Tensor G3 chip inside this phone is not quite flagship level.

Maini’s observations run contrary to Google’s marketing which touts the AI processing capabilities of the Tensor G3 as being “AI-first.” In an official blog, Monika Gupta, Google VP of Product Management makes the following claims about the Tensor G3:

This past year we’ve seen incredible AI breakthroughs and innovations — but a lot of those are built on the kind of compute power only available in a data center. To bring the transformative power of AI to your everyday life, we need to make sure you can access it from the device you use every day. That's why we're so excited that the latest Pixel phone features our latest custom silicon chip: Tensor G3.

Our third-generation Google Tensor G3 chip continues to push the boundaries of on-device machine learning, bringing the latest in Google AI research directly to our newest phones: Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

Our work with Tensor has never been about speeds and feeds, or traditional performance metrics. It’s about pushing the mobile computing experience forward. And in our new Tensor G3 chip, every major subsystem has been upgraded, paving the way for on-device generative AI. It includes the latest generation of Arm CPUs, an upgraded GPU, new ISP and Imaging DSP and our next-gen TPU, which was custom-designed to run Google’s AI models.

Not only does Google’s account of the importance of both what the Tensor G3 claims to be able to accomplish apparently clash with the reality of how the Pixel 8 Pro is actually handling generative AI tasks, its claims about the unimportance of performance metrics do not stack up with Arm’s own account of the central its CPUs and GPUs play in processing AI tasks – these are not solely handled by the TPU (Tensor Processing Unit), as Google infers in its blog.

On its website, Arm explains why its CPUs and GPUs (such as those used in the Tensor G3) are critical in performing AI tasks on device:

As AI compute moves from the cloud to where the data is gathered, Arm CPU and MCU (Micro Controller Unit) technologies are already handling the majority of AI and ML workloads at the edge and endpoints. The CPU is central to all AI systems, whether it’s handling the AI entirely or partnering with a co-processor, such as a GPU or an NPU for certain tasks.

As we covered exclusively earlier this week, in an extraordinary move, Google went out of its way to block reviewers from being able to easily install popular benchmark apps through its Play Store during the review embargo period. This actually also extended into the post-launch period too, however Google lifted the ban after our article went live. Tests using Primate Labs’ popular cross-platform benchmark Geekbench 6 showed that - despite having quite new CPU architecture - Tensor G3 performance is closer to the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 than it is to its current flagship chip the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

Update: We've recorded a couple of short clips confirming that a persistent internet connection to enable cloud-based processing is indeed required for the new Pixel 8 Pro AI features including Magic Editor and AI Wallpaper.

Purchase the Google Pixel 8 Pro 128GB from Amazon starting from $999.


@Mrwhosetheboss via YouTube


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 10 > @MrWhosetheboss video reveals Google's Pixel 8 Pro Tensor G3 off-loads all generative AI tasks to the cloud
Sanjiv Sathiah, 2023-10-20 (Update: 2023-10-21)