Google’s Pixel phones have been using Qualcomm chipsets, particularly from the Snapdragon 800 series, since day one. After years of rumors about a Google chipset, Google seems to make the switch from the Google Pixel 6. Google is said to have developed the chipset ‘together with Samsung’.
Google Pixel 6
Currently, there are only four major developers worldwide developing chipsets for smartphones: Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung and Huawei’s subsidiary HiSilicon. With that perspective in mind, it is a striking move by Google to develop its own chipsets. However, the development of chipsets is not entirely new for Google – the Pixel Visual Core from the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 series was developed in a collaboration between Google and Intel.
After partnering with Intel, this time Google is getting into a love boat with Samsung’s system-large scale integration (SLSI) division, 9to5Google reports based on new information about a ‘chip’ called Whitechapel. Google would develop the chipset for use in future Pixel and Chromebook devices and will follow competitor Apple by developing the chips in its hardware itself.
Similar to Exynos
The chipset, which will compete with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 700 series, is expected to arrive in the Google Pixel 6 in the fall. Internally, the chipset contains four energy-efficient ARM Cortex-A55 computing cores, supplemented with two Cortex-A76 cores and another two Cortex-A78 cores. It is not yet known which GPU the chipset contains, but it would, in any case, be a Mali GPU from the British ARM.
Google’s GS101, as the chipset is known internally, uses Samsung’s 5 nm process and – given its partnership with Samsung – may use software components for Exynos chipsets. The fact that Google may share software with the Exynos division says little about software support for the chipset. Since Google acts as the ‘client’ in the chip development, they will also be responsible for software support for the chip.
(Much) longer software updates
Developing chipsets yourself is an expensive affair, partly due to the software support, but it provides many benefits in the long term. For example, Google can now determine for itself how long the Google Silicon chipsets receive software support. Although Google was recently ‘around the table’ with Qualcomm to extend the update period, its own chipset offers even more freedom. Google could therefore decide to offer four or even five years of software updates for its Pixel phones.
In addition to longer software updates, proprietary chipsets have other advantages. HiSilicon hinted well in the past: the company did not sell HiSilicon chips to competitors so that it could cram its chipsets with optimizations for its own devices. Huawei also managed to implement exclusive camera optimizations with its own chip department, something that Google could also apply in the Whitechapel.
When we will be introduced to the Google Pixel 6 and with it, the Google Silicon 101, remains unknown at the moment. Last year, the Pixel 5 launched at the end of September. Since Google used a similar timeframe in previous years, it may still take six months before a first look at the Whitechapel can be taken. Are you curious about Google’s chipset? Be sure to let us know in the comments at the bottom of the article.