Google overhauled its Titan security chip for the Pixel 6

Google overhauled its Titan security chip for the Pixel 6

There’s one aspect of the Google Pixel 6 that sets it apart from every other phone available right now: it uses a custom ‘Tensor’ System-on-a-Chip design that Google designed in partnership with Samsung. Previous generations of Pixel phones already had a dedicated ‘Titan’ chip for handling some features, but that component received an overhaul for the Pixel 6, and now Google has shared some details about how it changed.

Google’s official Security Blog published a post on Wednesday about the security measures in the Pixel 6, including some information specifically about the Titan M2. It’s still a discrete security chip, but Google has switched it to a custom RISC-V processor. “We moved to an in-house designed RISC-V processor,” the company said, “with extra speed and memory, and made it even more resilient to advanced attacks. Titan M2TM has been tested against the most rigorous standard for vulnerability assessment, AVA_VAN.5, by an independent, accredited evaluation lab.” Google also mentioned that the Titan M2 was built to support Android StrongBox, the technology that powers Android’s tamper-resistant key storage.

Google Tensor security architecture diagram

Secure environments on the Pixel 6 (Credit: Google)

Besides the upgraded Titan M2 chip, there’s also the Google Tensor security core. The Tensor security core has its own dedicated CPU, ROM, one-time-programmable (OTP) memory, crypto engine (no, not cryptocurrency), internal SRAM, and protected DRAM. Its main purpose in the Pixel 6 is to protect user data keys and maintain Secure Boot — everything else is handled by the Titan M2.

If you’re curious about the rest of the Pixel 6’s hardware and software, check out our full Google Pixel 6 Pro review. It’s an impressive phone, and the custom Tensor architecture seems to pay off in real-world usage, but there are a few problems covered in the review.

    Google Pixel 6
    The Pixel 6 comes with Google's new Tensor chip, a modern design, and flagship cameras.
    Google Pixel 6 Pro
    The Pixel 6 Pro is the larger sibling that comes with Google's new Tensor chip, a modern design, and an extra telephoto camera.

About author

Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He's also the host of the Tech Tales podcast, which explores the history of the technology industry. Follow him on Twitter at @corbindavenport.