April 16, 2021

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What We’re Expecting From Google’s Custom ‘Whitechapel’ SoC In the Pixel 6

What We’re Expecting From Google’s Custom ‘Whitechapel’ SoC In the Pixel 6

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: It sounds like this custom Google SoC-powered Pixel is really going to happen. Echoing reports from about a year ago, 9to5Google is reporting that the Pixel 6 is expected to ship with Google’s custom “Whitechapel” SoC instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. The report says “Google refers to this chip as ‘GS101,’ with ‘GS’ potentially being short for ‘Google Silicon.'” It also notes that chip will be shared across the two Google phones that are currently in development, the Pixel 6 and something like a “Pixel 5a 5G.” 9to5 says it has viewed documentation that points to Samsung’s SLSI division (Team Exynos) being involved, which lines up with the earlier report from Axios saying the chip is “designed in cooperation with Samsung” and should be built on Samsung’s 5nm foundry lines. 9to5Google says the chip “will have some commonalities with Samsung Exynos, including software components.”

XDA Developers says it can corroborate the report, saying, “According to our source, it seems the SoC will feature a 3 cluster setup with a TPU (Tensor Processing Unit). Google also refers to its next Pixel devices as ‘dauntless-equipped phones,’ which we believe refers to them having an integrated Titan M security chip (code-named ‘Citadel’).” A “3 cluster setup” would be something like how the Snapdragon 888 works, which has three CPU core sizes: a single large ARM X1 core for big single-threaded workloads, three medium Cortex A78 cores for multicore work, and four Cortex A55 cores for background work. The Pixel 6 should be out sometime in Q4 2021, and Pixel phones always heavily, heavily leak before they launch. So I’m sure we’ll see more of this thing soon. “I think the biggest benefit we’ll see from a Google SoC is an expanded update timeline,” writes Ron Amadeo. “Android updates go a lot smoother when you get support from the SoC manufacturer, but Qualcomm abandons all its chips after the three-year mark for major updates. This lack of support makes updates significantly harder than they need to be, and today that’s where Google draws the line at updates.”

“Beyond easier updates, I don’t know that we can expect much from Whitechapel,” adds Amadeo, noting that lots of Android manufacturers have made their own chips but none of them have been able to significantly beat Qualcomm. “It’s hard to be bullish on Google’s SoC future when the company doesn’t seem to be making the big-money acquisitions and licensing deals that Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung are making. But at least it’s a start.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.