This week we reported exclusively that the upcoming Google Pixel 6 would be the first smartphone from the company to run on a specially designed chipset currently called “Whitechapel.” The move has major implications for the Pixel series as a whole, but why is Google doing it in the first place? Let’s take a look at the potential pros and cons.
First of all, it is incredibly important to note that right now all of this remains speculation. What we vet whether “Whitechapel” is very limited at this time. What has been reported gives us a better picture.
What are we doing vet about Whitechapel?
A report from Axios is what first put Whitechapel on the map. The report claimed that the chip was designed by Google, but to some extent had input from Samsung. Apparently Samsung would also be commissioned to produce the chip as well. As far as specifications go, there is not much to go on, except that this is an 8-core ARM design. The original report also mentioned that Whitechapel would have a “dedicated section”
At the moment, that’s all we are vet about this piece. However, there is much we can speculate about.
What can Pixel 6 earn on Whitechapel?
The big question about Whitechapel is what the benefit is. After all, Qualcomm Snapdragon chips are used in millions upon millions of Android phones every year, and they are only getting better, especially now that more cost levels are being made widely available. However, there are some important areas Google can benefit from its own piece.
First, there’s what the original report mentioned – optimize the chip for specific tasks. This is an effort that Google’s Pixel phones are no stranger to. The Pixel 2 series saw the debut of a Google chip known as the “Pixel Visual Core.” The custom chip was designed to speed up the AI-heavy processing of images taken on Pixel, as well as enable these processes in third-party apps. The chip was not present in Pixel 3a, 4a, 5 or 4a 5G, and although it did not really ruin the experience, the processing speed was definitely noticeable. Pixel 4 and 4 XL introduced an upgrade to this chip, “Pixel Neural Core” which was said to improve Google Assistant speed. Another custom design in Pixel phones is the Titan M, a security chip used to strengthen encryption and store data such as biometrics. With a custom chip, Google could in theory take with it everyone of it to a piece.
Google can also take advantage of Whitechapel in Pixel 6 with long-term software support. As it stands today, Pixel phones running on Qualcomm chips get only three years of updates. Not terrible, but quite disappointing compared to iPhones, which get six or seven. A large part of the reason why Pixels no longer receives support is due to Qualcomm. Google worked with Qualcomm to provide future chips with up to four years of support, but it still leaves a tough situation for Android OEMs who may wishes to go over three or four years, but can not reasonably do so due to Qualcomm’s timeline for support.
One more potential The way that ditching Qualcomm can help Pixel is cost. There are too many unknowns to say something externally definitive, but a custom chip could provide a cheaper cost for Google versus buying from Qualcomm. This may mean that Pixel 6 may have better performance than Pixel 5, which used Snapdragon 765G of the second level unlike Samsung, OnePlus and other flagships with Snapdragon 865. If the cost is also low enough, that chip may appear in Google’s cheaper Pixel telephones. However, a potential roadblock could be the extent of Google’s production. Pixels do not sell in large numbers, so the cost is, proportionally, probably higher.
What are the potential disadvantages?
There are probably many other ups and downs for Whitechapel in Pixel 6, but what about the potential issues?
For one it is raw performance. Google seems to be working with Samsung on the design, which is good, but Samsung’s own Exynos pieces are notorious for being far behind their Qualcomm counterparts. Given Qualcomm’s expertise, it seems highly unlikely that Google can match Snapdragon in terms of performance. This can be a disadvantage for many, but as mentioned, in a perfect situation, Google could find a middle ground that sees lower performance compared to the Snapdragon 800 series chips, but keeps costs like the Snapdragon 700 series.
On a similar note, it may cause you to switch away from the established “normal” compatibility issues with Android apps and more. Again, that’s it too much That we do not know about this piece to begin to wonder what these problems may be, but the potential is certainly there.
There is also the elephant in the room. After five generations of Pixel, Google has shown that hardware is actually not that good. The company’s track record has looked less than fantastic quality control and insects galore. Pixel 3 had a washing list of hardware issues, and Google even had to issue better warranties, follow launch issues with Pixel 2. This is something important to keep in mind when Google manufactures its own chips, as they put an extra and core component of the device further under their control.
Are you excited about Google’s custom chips?
There’s so much we do not know at this point about custom Google chipsets. They can be great, they can fail completely. It’s all in the air right now. But what is exciting is the potential. Google does something that no other (relevant) Android maker does. Samsung makes its own chips, but they do not use them all over the globe. And Huawei, another Android OEM that has its own chip designs, is going downhill fast.
Qualcomm and MediaTek mainly have a duopoly for chipsets on Android. Whitechapel in Pixel 6 will not change that, and even if / when Google fully adopts Whitechapel in the rest of the Pixel line, Pixel’s sales figures will still not change that. But it is the potential that is exciting.
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