Google Pixel 6 would switch to a custom GS101 processor.
Google’s next flagship, the Google Pixel 6, presumably called the “Google Pixel 6,” will feature a Google-designed GS101 “Whitechapel” SoC (system-on-chip), a first for the company as indicated by 9to5Google and XDA-Developers.
The 9to5Google report claims that Google is working on two phones equipped with the Arm-based GS101, supposedly a successful flagship device on the last Pixel 5 of the year and followed by a Pixel 4A 5G.
MEANWHILE, the XDA report goes into more detail on the new SoC, stating that the GS101 chips will feature a “three-cluster configuration with a TPU (Tensor Processing Unit)” for machine learning applications. (For reference, Qualcomm’s flagship product, Snapdragon 888, uses Cortex-X1 / Cortex-A78 d ‘Arm / Cortex-A55 as a triple-cluster CPU configuration.) Also, the new SoC may have an integrated security chip, similar to the Titan M.
Google’s Idea The custom TPU or security chip is not new: Google already has made TPUs for the Google Pixel 4 and Neural Core servers, as well as the discrete Titan M chip in their current phones. But the custom-designed GS101 would likely allow the company to integrate these features on a deeper level.
The rumors about Whitechapel’s chips have a target published since last year when Ax ios reported that Google is looking to develop its internal chips for use in Pixel and Chromebook devices. This report stated that the company would optimize its chip for Google’s machine learning technology, corroborated by the XDA report.
The GS101 chip for the Google Pixel 6 2021 line is said to be the first fruit of the Whitechapel project. However, the original Axios report indicates that the Chromebook chips were not expected until later in the future.
The 9to5Google report also includes references to a “Slider” codename tied to the new device, which says it is also connected to Samsung’s Exynos SoC (which the company’s smartphones outside of the US). Samsung’s stake in manufacturing, which Axios also reported last year, would make sense as one of the largest manufacturers of semiconductors for smartphones.
A Google-designed GS101 chip is an intriguing idea for the Google Pixel 6.
The Idea of chips designed by Google is compelling. Apple has long touted its tightly integrated software and hardware suite as a key component of how its iPhones, iPads, and now, its Mac computers can perform so well, a key part of the A-series chips and the series M.
Google, and almost all other Android manufacturers except Samsung and Huawei, do not have this advantage. Rather, it is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips, which dominate the Android market in the United States.
An Android device often lives or dies due to its manufacturer’s ability to synergize Qualcomm chips, Google’s software, and its hardware designs. Similarly, the fact that, in essence, almost all Android devices run on the same chipset and software, it is difficult for any model to stand out.
But a Google-designed GS101 chip brings a tantalizing promise: that Google could offer an Apple-like boost in terms of speed, performance, and battery life on Android (and more specifically, its Pixel line) with a similar level of control over. Hardware, software, and processor design. It’s an intriguing idea, as long as Google can make it happen.
That said, building a smartphone processor at the Apple or Qualcomm level is not easy. Although the two companies use Arm as a common foundation, they have spent years refining these basic concepts with customizations to suit their needs.
Apple has been using custom designs on its processors since the A6 design of 2012 (as opposed to previous models that used CPU designs licensed from ARM itself). Qualcomm takes a similar approach in its modern processors, using custom Kryo cores that are semi-custom versions of Arm’s Core Cortex designs.
Google may take several generations to fine-tune its Pixel chips. But suppose Google can deliver a proper custom chip, engineered from the ground up to be designed specifically for Google Pixel hardware and Android software.
In that case, that could be the key to turning the Pixel line of a secondary show into the real power of a game smartphone.
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