Google’s Pixel phones and Chromebooks might run on its in-house processors in the future. A new Axios report claims the search engine giant is developing its own chipsets that could arrive on Pixel smartphones as soon as next year.
Codenamed “Whitechapel,” Google has reportedly partnered with Samsung to design and manufacture the 8-core ARM processor. It will take advantage of the phone maker’s 5-nanometer technology, which has yet to hit the market and is an upgrade from the existing 7nm chipsets found on most flagship smartphones.
Whitechapel will possibly include optimizations for Google’s machine-learning frameworks as well. It is rumored to also have a standalone component dedicated to the performance of Google Assistant’s always-on abilities. It’s worth noting that Google already bundles an in-house chip called the Pixel Neural Core on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL to handle artificial intelligence workloads and smart camera features.
Building the main processor from scratch could allow Google to further refine its phones’ experience in terms of both speed and battery life to better rival iPhones, which have nearly always featured Apple’s own chips. Most leading phone makers like Samsung and Huawei already have robust chip divisions; the latter has exclusively relied on in-house processors for the last couple of years.
While Google is already prototyping the first working versions of the chip, Axios says it won’t likely debut until next year. Incidentally, Google’s next flagship, the Pixel 5 series, is expected to run on Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 765G processor.
The report further mentions the chip could eventually also make its way to Chromebooks. However, that will likely happen much later and we don’t know yet whether Google will make it available for third-party Chrome OS partners like Dell and Asus.
Google, over the past year, was discovered setting up a chip design team based out of India and poaching designers from other silicon manufacturers such as Intel and Qualcomm. In 2017, it had even hired a veteran Apple chip architect. On top of that, it has made a series of acquisitions in the last two years. In November 2019, it bought Fitbit and before that, it spent $40 million to buy a piece of smartwatch tech and a few researchers from Fossil. Given these developments, it is possible Google is revamping its hardware efforts from the ground up as both its phones and wearable divisions have largely struggled to leave a mark.
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