It sounds like this custom pixel with Google SoC support is really going to happen. Echo of reports from about a year ago, 9to5Google reports that the Pixel 6 is expected to ship with Google’s custom “Whitechapel” SoC instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.
The report says: “Google calls this chip” GS101 “with” GS “. possibly Abbreviation for “Google Silicon”. It is also noted that the chip is shared on the two Google phones currently in development, the Pixel 6 and something like a “Pixel 5a 5G”. According to 9to5, documentation has been displayed indicating that Samsung’s SLSI division (Team Exynos) is involved, which is in line with earlier report from Axios The chip was “developed in cooperation with Samsung” and should be based on Samsung’s 5 nm foundry lines. According to 9to5Google, the chip will “have some similarities with Samsung Exynos, including software components”.
XDA developer says it can confirm the report, saying, “According to our source, the SoC will appear to have a 3-cluster setup with a TPU (Tensor Processing Unit). Google is also calling its next Pixel devices” fearlessly equipped phones. ” believe they have a built-in Titan M security chip (code name “Citadel”). A “3-cluster setup” is roughly how the Snapdragon 888 works with three CPU core sizes: a single large ARM X1 core for large ones Single-threaded workloads three medium-sized Cortex A78 cores for multicore work and four Cortex A55 cores for background work.
The Pixel 6 should be out sometime in the fourth quarter of 2021, and Pixel phones always leak badly, badly, before they even launch. So I’m sure we’ll see more of this soon.
Reasonable expectations for Whitechapel
It’s easy to convince yourself of Google’s first internal smartphone SoC – “Google is ready to take on Apple!” The headlines will no doubt scream. However, the fact is that Apple is a $ 2 trillion Hardware company and the iPhone is the biggest product, while Google is an advertising company with a hardware department as a small side project. Whitechapel will give Google more control over its smartphone hardware, but Google’s custom chips haven’t exactly set the world on fire in the past. As such, it makes sense to soften expectations for the company’s first generation SoC.
Google’s consumer hardware team has already shipped several custom chips, and I don’t know if you can call any of them a world beater:
- The Pixel Visual Core A customer-specific camera co-processor was created with the in pixels 2 and 3 Help from Intel. The Visual Core helped with the HDR + processing, but Google was able to get the same image quality on the Pixel 3a that didn’t have the chip.
- The Pixel Neural Core was in the Pixel 4 thrown out the AI accelerator of the company’s Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) and had a similar job doing camera and AI speech recognition. It was unimportant enough to do justice cut from the pixel 5 completely.
- There was the air gesture recognition chip Project solos, on the Pixel 4. This was a radar-on-a-chip concept that Google initially identified as capable of detecting “sub-millimeter movements of your fingers,” but at the time of commercialization it could only detect it tall, waving his arm Gestures. The function still exists today in the new Nest Hub, for sleep tracking, but it wasn’t good enough to make the jump to the Pixel 5.
- The companys Titan M security chip works as a secure element in some Pixel phones. Google says this makes the Pixel phones more secure, although a roughly equivalent secure element also comes with a Qualcomm chip, or at least the company has never shown a noticeable difference.
I think the biggest benefit of a Google SoC is an extended update timeline. Android updates go a lot smoother with support from the SoC manufacturer, but from Qualcomm gives up all of his chips after the three-year period for important updates. This lack of support leads to updates significantly heavier than they need to be, and today this is where Google draws the line when it comes to updates. With Qualcomm out of the way, Google has no excuse for not following Apple’s five-year iPhone update policy. With a custom SoC, Google has complete control over how long devices can be updated.
Right now, Google is in the embarrassing position of offering less support for its devices than Samsung is now up to Three years of important updates (Qualcomm maximum) and four years of security updates, while Google only offers one year fewer security updates. It’s an odd position for Google, which previously led the hardware support ecosystem. Perhaps Google didn’t reach Samsung immediately because it was waiting for the Pixel 6 launch, where it announced dramatically longer support deadlines thanks to its own chip?
In fact, it’s tough to compete in the SoC business
Aside from simpler updates, what I don’t know is that we can expect much from Whitechapel. Many Android manufacturers have now made their own chips with varying degrees of success. Samsung has the Exynos line. Huawei has its HiSilicon chips. Xiaomi did that Overvoltage protection S1 SoC launched the Surge C1 camera chip in the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold back in 2017 an investment in a silicon designer. Oppo is working on it Development of in-house chips, to. None of the existing efforts could significantly beat Qualcomm, and most of these companies (except Huawei) are still choosing Qualcomm over their own chips for critical devices. Everyone, including Qualcomm, relies on the same company, ARM, for their CPU designs. Hence, there is not much room for differences between them. If everyone is using off-the-shelf ARM CPU designs, the main differentiating areas are the GPU and the modem, two areas that Qualcomm excels at, so it’s picked up for most large devices.
Those companies that take hardware seriously are doing their best to ditch the basic ARM CPU designs and instead choose to design their own cores based on the ARM instruction set. Apple dominates mobile CPU performance thanks to the acquisition of an entire semiconductor company. PA semi, in 2008. Qualcomm is doing its best to catch up, Buy NuviaGoogle, a chip design company founded by some of these former Apple chip designers, and plans to ship its in-house designed CPUs in 2022. Google made some settings for the chip design, but they are split up the separated Hardware and server teams, and they pale in comparison to buying an entire company. If even Qualcomm isn’t currently shipping custom chips, I see no way Google could use anything beyond the off-the-shelf ARM CPU designs.
Google’s GPU and modem solutions will be of great interest. There aren’t many GPU designs out there. Qualcomm has its own Adreno division, which it bought from ATI years ago. Samsung has a deal with AMD for its future GPUs, but I doubt this would be won in its Google partnership. If this chip really borders on Exynos, then Samsung and many other SoC vendors also operate off-the-shelf ARM Mali GPUs that generally don’t compete with those offered by Qualcomm. Samsung signed this AMD partnership for a reason!
It’s a challenge to imagine that Google’s SoC has a built-in modem. In general, the only way to add a modem to your SoC is if you have the modem design and Google doesn’t have a modem IP. Samsung has made chips with built-in 5G modems, but they generally don’t ship to the United States. For a Samsung modem, the design has to be passed on to Google as well as brought to the USA for the first time. Qualcomm is natural the king by heavily armed corporations with their modem IP and keeping competitors out of the US, and it is also generally a leader in modem technologies like 5G. Apple has done it so far with separate cellular modems – today the iPhone 12 has a discrete Qualcomm modem for 5G, which is probably the most likely option for Google. Apple bought too Intel’s modem department for a billion dollars, indicating that it is working towards modem technology on board.
In addition to the usual CPU / GPU / modem options, Google could also include a special camera and AI sauce in the form of a co-processor (hopefully we’ll also get the Pixel’s first camera sensor upgrade in four years). Google will likely include a Titan security chip as well. Even if it did, I can’t imagine it would make that much of a difference to something like shipping with a low quality GPU or modem. Google has never shown strong end-user benefit from its custom silicon in the past, just a lot of hype.
It’s hard to be optimistic about Google’s SoC future if the company doesn’t seem to be making big money on the acquisitions and licensing deals made by Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung. But at least it’s a start.