Any smartphone, tablet, or PC is only as good as the processor that runs it. With the M1 series, Apple has proven that custom in-house chips can lead to many advantages. According to reports, Google might be following in that path with a custom system on chip (SoC) to debut in the Pixel 6.
According to documentation seen by 9to5Google, the plan is to introduce the new SoC (codenamed Whitechapel) “as soon as 2021.” Rumors of the Whitechapel started swirling in early 2020, and reports suggested Google might be work with Samsung to develop the new SOCs for Pixel and Chromebook devices. That’d be a massive change, leading Google to drop Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors.
A custom SoC would present several potential advantages. With the hardware more in Google’s control, it could specify particular capabilities that would benefit Pixel. And a longer update window is feasible, too, because it wouldn’t need outside help from Qualcomm. That fact has played out with Apple devices like iPhone and even Samsung Android phones that rely on its Exynos chips.
According to 9to5Google, the documents reference Whitechapel in conjunction with the codename “Slider,” a reference to Google’s Camera app. As 9to5Google puts it:
From what we can piece together, we believe that Slider is a shared platform for the first Whitechapel SoC. Internally, Google refers to this chip as “GS101,” with “GS” potentially being short for “Google Silicon.”
Looking at other projects connected to “Slider,” we find the codename is also directly connected to Samsung, including references to Samsung Exynos. From the references, it seems that Whitechapel is being developed with Samsung Semiconductor’s system large-scale integration (SLSI) division, meaning the Google chips will have some commonalities with Samsung Exynos, including software components.
All that information together seems to suggest that the next phones Google announces (presumably the Pixel 6) will run on “Whitechapel” chips instead of Qualcomm offerings. It’s worth noting that Google previously dabbled with silicon with the Pixel Visual Core, but that was an image processor and not a full SoC.