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Rumor mill: Google is reportedly developing its own custom system-on-a-chip (SoC) for next-generation Pixel handsets. The chip, which is being co-developed with Samsung, is expected to premiere in upcoming Pixel 6 later this year. The news come following a previous earnings call in which Google CEO Sundar Pichai described “deeper investments in hardware” and teased a “terrific roadmap ahead” for 2021.
We had heard that Google’s Pixel 6 would be powered by the Snapdragon 775 or 780G, however a new report from 9to5Google claims that this year Google will be debuting a new in-house SoC codenamed “Whitechapel.” According to internal Google documents shared in the report, this will begin with the "GS101" chip in upcoming Pixel 6 phones.
Google is co-developing the GS101 alongside Samsung, who has plenty of experience developing Exynos SoCs for its Galaxy Android handsets. A second report from XDA-Developers sheds more light on the SoC, claiming that the GS101 will feature a three cluster setup with a TPU (Tensor Processing Unit) for machine learning and an integrated security chip.
It’s also possible that Google’s long-term plan is to use in-house chips in both Pixel handsets and Chromebooks, in a similar way that Apple uses A-series on iPhones and iPads, and most recently M-series chips on computers.
Through tightly integrating hardware and software, Google may be hoping for a higher level of control over Pixel hardware, while ensuring security and reliability. It’s a big move for a relatively low volume product, but possibly a smart one if they succeed, making a game-changing improvement in Google’s Pixel lineup.