Google May Soon Have Its Own Chipset For Chromebooks & Pixel

Google Pixel Event Logo 2017 AH 4 AH 2019
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Google is reportedly making progress in a bid to build its own chipset for both Chromebooks and Pixel devices. That's based on a series of recent reports stemming from an Axios article indicating that the processor is being co-designed with Samsung. Perhaps most importantly, the company is said to have received its first batch of working chips in "recent weeks."

The search giant's new chips, code-named Whitechapel, feature an 8-core ARM processor. The details of that have not been leaked just yet. But Whitechapel will include optimizations for Google's AI technology. And at least a segment of the chip will be directly responsible for improvements to both performance and 'always-on' Google Assistant, according to the source.

In addition to an eight-core ARM processor, Whitechapel will also include hardware optimized for Google's machine-learning technology. A portion of its silicon will also be dedicated to improving the performance and "always-on" capabilities of Google Assistant, the source says.

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This isn't the first hint that Samsung would help Google on chips

The new reports centering on Google's chipset for its own hardware are not the first indication that such a plan is in the works. Earlier this month, reports suggested that Samsung would be building a custom Exynos chip for the search giant. Both chips here seem to be the same. Both are using standard CPU and GPU designs from ARM on the 5nm LPE process.

Each of the two reports also highlights an octa-core design. Prior to the latest news, those leaks indicated that it would be built around two Cortex-A78 CPU cores and two Cortex-A76 CPU cores. Four more CPU cores, aimed at power-efficiency were part of the rumors too. Specifically, those were reported to be Cortex-A55 CPU cores.

On the graphics side of the equation, the Samsung-built Google chipset was reported to feature a Mali MP20 GPU. That's set to be based on a brand new architecture from ARM, developed under the code-name Borr. Google's own Visual Core ISP and NPU will replace Samsung's ISP and NPU on the chipset.

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A chipset for Google Pixel and Chromebooks isn't coming soon

Now, Google is keeping fairly mum about the upcoming chipset for Pixel handsets and Chromebooks. That's hardly surprising since those aren't expected to be ready in time for Pixel-branded smartphones. Or at least not soon. At the earliest, the expectation is that they'll arrive in time for Pixel devices in 2021. The use of Whitechapel chips in Chromebooks, conversely, would be pushed back even further according to current speculation.

Further backing up that expectation, the chips are said to be built on Samsung's 5nm architecture. While Google has already built its own AI, image processing, and server-grade hardware, that could prove to be a problem.

Despite a working version of the chips already reportedly being shipped to Google, the search giant seems to be depending on Samsung here. Recent reports out of Samsung's home region of South Korea indicate that plans from Samsung to mass-produce its 5nm chips may stall as a result of ongoing global health concerns. If that happens, Google's dedicated chipsets could be pushed back even further.

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