Google is reportedly on the verge of stepping up their hardware game in a way that follows the example set by Apple, with custom-designed silicon powering future smartphones. Axios reports that Google is readying its own in-house processors for use in future Pixel devices, including both phones and eventually Chromebooks, too.
Google’s efforts around its own first-party hardware have been somewhat of a mixed success, with some generations of Pixel smartphone earning high praise, including for its work around camera software and photo processing. But it has used standard Qualcomm processors to date, whereas Apple has long designed its own custom processor (the A-series) for its iPhone, providing the Mac-maker an edge when it comes to performance tailor-made for its OS and applications.
The Axios report says that Google’s in-house chip is code-named “Whitechapel,” and that it was made in collaboration with Samsung and uses that company’s 5-nanometer process. It includes an 8-core ARM-based processor, as well as dedicated on-chip resources for machine learning and Google Assistant.
Google has already taken delivery of the first working prototypes of this processor, but it’s said to be at least a year before they’ll be used in actual shipping Pixel phones, which means we likely have at least one more generation of Pixel that will include a third-party processor. The report says that this will eventually make its way to Chromebooks, too, if all goes to plan, but that that will take longer.
Rumors have circulated for years now that Apple would eventually move its own Mac line to in-house, ARM-based processors, especially as the power and performance capabilities of its A-series chips has scaled and surpassed those of its Intel equivalents. ARM-based Chromebooks already exist, so that could make for an easier transition on the Google side – provided the Google chips can live up to expectations.