According to a report today by Axios, Google has made "significant progress" in developing its own chipset for use in its Pixel phones — and, eventually, Chromebooks. Code-named "Whitechapel," the 8-core ARM chip was designed with Samsung's help, though it won't be ready for another year.
Rumblings of Google's plans to develop its own mobile chipset date back years, though the company has already managed to build its own chipsets for AI-related server use. More recently, it's been poaching employees from Qualcomm and Intel. Though we've heard rumors that Samsung was working with Google on something chip-related, this is the first explicit confirmation, and the first time we've had a name to go with it.
Whitechapel, in its current form, is an 8-core ARM chipset that also includes other hardware "optimized for Google's machine learning technology" — that probably means other on-die heterogeneous DSPs or compute units optimized for AI-specific use cases, similar to Qualcomm's Hexagon DSP. Part of the chip will be always-on and specifically built for improving functionality for Google's Assistant. So far, no details regarding modems are included — Google may still end up beholden to Qualcomm there.
Previous rumors surrounding a Google-made chipset indicated it might have an off-the-shelf ARM Mali GPU based on unannounced "borr" architecture. On the CPU side it's rumored to sport 2x A78 cores (similarly unannounced at the time of writing), 2x A76 cores, and four smaller A55 cores.
When it manifests, Axios' sources say that Whitechapel will be built by Samsung on its upcoming 5nm node for use in a future Pixel phone. Later versions could also end up in Chromebooks.
With the flagship US smartphone scene essentially a Qualcomm monopoly, and MediaTek cheating on benchmarks rather than moving to compete more in the high-end, Google's plans with Whitechapel might successfully disrupt an increasingly stagnant market — if it can perform well.
- Ibrahim Al-Alali