Google is developing Custom Chips for Pixels and Chromebooks

Last week, a report from South Korea revealed Samsung to have partnered with Google to supply custom Exynos chips to the internet search giant. Now, a new report by Axios confirms this venture and also discloses more information.

According to the latest report, Google is developing new in-house chips to use in its Pixel lineup of smartphones and Chromebooks. It could debut on Pixels as early as next year if all goes well.

This new custom Google chip codenamed Whitechapel will be manufactured using Samsung’s 5nm process. Hence, the previous report seems to have mentioned it as a custom Exynos chip. It is not the first time Samsung is producing chips for a rival, it has previously manufactured Apple’s A-series mobile chips.

The report says the new chip will be an octa-core ARM processor with optimization for Google’s machine learning technology. It will also have components to improve the ‘always-on’ capabilities of the Google Assistant.

As per the previous report, the chip will feature two Cortex-A78 cores, two Cortex-A76 cores, and four Cortex-A55 cores for CPU. Whereas, for graphics, it will use the new unannounced Mali MP20 GPU based on Borr microarchitecture. Lastly, it will feature custom ISP and NPU designed by Google, which the new report confirms.

Google has already designed chips for its devices like the Titan M security chip and Pixel Visual Core. Making a whole SoC by itself to reduce dependency on chipmakers as Qualcomm could help the Mountain View company to compete against Apple, who has been making custom mobile processors for years.

Designing and manufacturing custom processors is a tough job and it takes years to master. If Google tries hard to hang on to this project for a long time, the Pixel smartphone lineup can finally make a stand for itself in the sea of Android smartphones with better software integration similar to what Apple does with iOS.

The chip, apparently codenamed “Whitechapel,” may be an eight-core ARM processor built using Samsung’s 5-nanometer process, according to Axios. The processor could be optimized to run Google’s machine learning technology and may have a portion of the chip designated to improve Google Assistant’s performance, according the report.
“The chip is apparently codenamed “Whitechapel””

Google already makes chips of its own for other functions in its devices. Some of its Pixel phones have a security chip called the Titan M, for example, while the Pixel 4 has a coprocessor called the Pixel Neural Core.

Right now, though, the main processor on the Pixels are made by Qualcomm; switching to a custom processor that’s designed by Google to optimally run Google’s software and services could improve the experience of using future Google hardware much in the way Apple’s A-series chips are optimized to run iOS. The move would also be a major blow to Qualcomm, which currently provides processors to most of the Android phone world, with just Huawei and (some of) Samsung’s devices not carrying Qualcomm chips.

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