Google will reportedly launch a custom smartphone chip this fall, presumably with the Pixel 6, according to a new report. It is rumored that the company will explore the development of its own custom system on a chip (SoC), and this year it may finally be when it debuts.
9to5Google reported on Friday that the Google-made chip, internally known as Whitechapel, will debut this year as the first of many custom SoCs destined for future Google devices. It includes smartphones like the Pixel 6 and Chromebooks ̵
Google is reportedly developing Whitechapel in coordination with Samsung Semiconductor’s System Size Integration (SLSI). This means that Google’s chip may share similarities with Samsung’s Exynos, including software components, 9to5Google so. Google CEO Sundar Pichai previously lamented that the company would make “some deeper investment in hardware”, and Whitechapel could be.
9to5Google claims to have seen a document confirming Google’s upcoming plans. “The document uses Whitechapel in conjunction with the code name ‘Slider’ – a reference we also found in the Google Camera app,” 9to5Google so. “From what we can put together, we believe that Slider is a shared platform for the first Whitechapel SoC. Internally, Google refers to this piece as ‘GS101’, with ‘GS’ which is potentially an abbreviation for “Google Silicon.”
According to previous reports, Google’s chip will have an octa-core ARM CPU with two Cortex-A78 + two Cortex-A76 + four Cortex-A55 cores. It will also have a shelf ARM Mali GPU, and be produced on Samsung’s 5nm production process. Based on this, we expect the Whitechapel to be an upper sized chip comparable to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7 Series.
The biggest benefit of switching to custom silicon will be greater control over driver updates. Google will no longer rely on Qualcomm for driver updates and can therefore update drivers to be compatible with newer versions of Android. We can even see that the new chips are supported in 5 generations of Android OS updates compared to the current 3 generations of support that Pixel devices are currently receiving.
Google has built custom chips in the past, and partnered with Intel in 2017 to develop the Pixel Visual Core for Pixel 2. As for Google, Google could integrate the Pixel Visual Core into SoC, possibly enabling new camera features in the upcoming Pixel 6. Create a custom SoC will probably also be cheaper to make and use compared to buying a chip from Qualcomm or Samsung.
Selected image is Pixel 5
Update 1: Confirmation
After looking at some internal documentation related to Google’s next Pixel devices, XDA can now confirm that Google is working on new GS101 silicon for its 2021 Pixel phones. According to our source, it looks like SoC will have a 3-cluster setup with a TPU (Tensor Processing Unit). Google also refers to its next Pixel devices as “fearlessly equipped phones”, which we believe refers to having an integrated Titan M security chip (codenamed “Citadel”).
Dauntless has appeared in Chromium Gerrit where it is referred to as GSC, which I assume means Google Security Chip. It can thus be a universal security chip for Chromebooks and Android. (Google is working on “Dauntless-equipped phones” which I assume are the next pixels.)
– Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) April 2, 2021