Google is planning to up its hardware game. The giant has plans of developing its own processors for future Pixel products, including phones and, eventually, Chromebooks. While looking up some Superinternetdeals, I stumbled upon a news blog that revealed Google has already put its heart and soul into this project!
Google's efforts for developing its own first-party hardware have had mixed results, with certain versions of Pixel smartphones receiving high acclamation, particularly for its camera software and photo processing. However, it has so far relied on ordinary Qualcomm CPUs, whereas, Apple has traditionally created its custom processor for its iPhone, giving it an advantage in terms of performance or its operating systems as well as apps.
Google has already received the first functioning prototypes of this chip, but it will be at least a year before they are actually used. This means that there will be at least one more Pixel generation using a third-party processor. If all goes according to plan, this will ultimately make its way to Chromebooks as well, according to the report, but this might will take longer.
Google's new CPUs and mobile processors are based on Arm's chip designs, a Softbank-controlled U.K. chip business whose intellectual property is used in over 90 percent of the world's mobile devices.
The business has high hopes for the Pixel 6 series and has ordered suppliers to prepare 50 percent more production capacity for the devices in 2019 than in the pre-pandemic year. According to research firm IDC, Google shipped more than 7 million Pixel phones in 2019, the biggest number ever, but just 3.7 million the following year when COVID struck the world.
Because it is the only U.S. smartphone manufacturer developing handsets using the Android operating system, Google told many vendors in recent meetings that it sees tremendous growth opportunities in the global market. Experts think making custom chips is a smart move but it won’t be without challenges.
Chief analyst at Isaiah Research, Eric Tseng, said, "We discovered that all of the tech titans are entering the incursion to make their own chips since they can put their own features into those chips to fit their own needs."
These tech firms would be able to easily modify R&D workloads without being constrained by their suppliers, and provide new services and even innovate. Using their own chips also means better software and hardware integration.
Constructing chips will require a large investment and long-term commitment. Not to mention, all businesses building their own chips will have to compete for manufacturing capacity with established top chip developers such as Intel, and others.
The cost of designing a cutting-edge 5-nm chip is now approximately $500 million. Because only a few parties have the abilities or financial resources to develop their own chips, the typical players contemplating this option are either highly large players, such as cloud service providers, or have incredibly important uses for these created chips.
Back in 2016, Google began developing its own silicon dubbed TPUs to help lift the AI workloads from its cloud servers. It is employing chip engineers all over the world, including Taiwan, Israel, and India right here in the USA. The company has already engaged chip talent from key vendors such as Mediatek, Intel, and Qualcomm.
The company is gearing up to release its first significant custom chip this autumn. From 2020, Google was preparing in-house Chromebook CPUs after testing the concept on Pixel phones, which we now know will happen in a few weeks.
This upcoming Chromebook CPUs is going to be based on Arm, much like the TPUs. Also, Google wishes to create custom chips in laptop and tablet sizes.
There aren't many specifics on what the giant hopes to achieve with these chips. The company's TPUs, for example, were primarily focused on AI performance. Apple's success in creating custom chips for its MAC and iPhone products inspired the company. While it may be something years away, the concept of Google achieving a feat similar to M1 chips by Apple for Chromebooks appears to be a highly intriguing possibility.