New reports indicate that the Pixel 6 will have a dedicated Google “Whitechapel” SoC

New reports indicate that the Pixel 6 will have a dedicated Google "Whitechapel" SoC

Ron Amadeo / Intel

It looks like the custom Pixel device powered by the Google SoC will actually happen. Reports echo from About a year agoAnd 9to5Google Reports indicate that the Pixel 6 is expected to ship with a dedicated Google “Whitechapel” SoC instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.

The report says “Google refers to this chip as” GS101 “with” GS ” Likely Being an acronym for “Google Silicon”. It also indicates that the chip will be shared across two Google phones currently in development, the Pixel 6 and something like “Pixel 5a 5G”. 9to5 says it has seen documents that mention Samsung’s SLSI division (Team Exynos), which is consistent with the previous report from Axios He said the chip was “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 He says he can confirm the report, saying: “According to our source, it appears that the SoC will have a 3-pack setup with TPU (Tensor Processing Unit). Google also refers to the following Pixel devices as“ non-equipped phones, ”which we think indicate they have Titan M Integrated Security Chip (codenamed “Citadel). The “Set 3 Setup” will be something like how the Snapdragon 888 works, which has three core CPU sizes: one large ARM X1 core for large single-threaded workloads, three intermediate Cortex A78 cores for multi-core work, and four Cortex A55 cores for background work .

The Pixel 6 should come out sometime in the fourth quarter of 2021, and Pixel phones are always heavily leaked before they are launched. So I’m sure we’ll see more of this soon.

Reasonable expectations from Whitechapel

It’s easy to overstate the talk of the Google’s first indoor smartphone – “Google is ready to take on Apple!” No doubt the headlines will scream. However, the fact of the matter is that Apple is 2 trillion dollars The hardware company and iPhone are its biggest product, while Google is an advertising company with a hardware division as a small side venture. Whitechapel will give Google more control over its smartphone hardware, but Google’s custom chips in the past have not completely set the world on fire, so it is plausible that they soften expectations for the company’s first-generation SoC.

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The Google Consumer Devices team has already shipped several custom chips, and I don’t know if you can call any of them among the best global chips:

  • The Pixel Visual Core In the Pixel 2 and 3 it was a dedicated camera coprocessor built with Intel help. Visual Core helped process HDR +, but Google was able to achieve the same image quality on the Pixel 3a, which did not have the chip.
  • The Pixel Neural Core In Pixel 4 it was Spun it out From the company’s Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) AI acceleration effort, it had a similar functionality to do camera work and AI voice recognition. It was just insignificant enough Pieces of Pixel 5 Completely.
  • There was an Air Gesture Detection slide, Sully Project, On the Pixel 4. This was a concept of radar on a chip that Google originally showed as being able to detect “your finger movements without millimeters,” but by the time it was commercialized, it was able to detect Big, arm waving Gestures. The feature is still present today at The new Nest Hub, To track sleep, but it wasn’t good enough to switch to the Pixel 5.
  • The company Titan M security chip It works as a safe component on some Pixel phones. Google says this makes Pixel phones more secure, although a roughly equivalent safe component also comes with a Qualcomm chip, or at least, the company has never shown a perceptible difference.

I think the biggest benefit we’ll see from the Google SoC is the expansion of the update schedule. Android updates get smoother when you get support from the SoC manufacturer, but from Qualcomm He gives up all his chips After the three-year mark for major updates. This lack of support makes updates Much more difficult Than they should be, and today this is where Google puts the streak in updates. With Qualcomm out of the way, there are no excuses for Google for not matching Apple’s five-year iPhone update policy. With a dedicated SoC, Google will have full control over how long it can update devices.

Currently, Google is in the embarrassment of offering less support for its devices than Samsung, which Now up to Three years of major updates (the maximum from Qualcomm) and four years of security updates, while Google offers one year less security updates. It’s a strange situation for Google, which previously led the hardware support ecosystem. Maybe Google hasn’t matched Samsung right away as it awaits the Pixel 6 launch, as it will announce longer support schedules thanks to its own chip?

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In fact, competing in the SoC’s business is tough

Other than the easier updates, I don’t know we can expect much from Whitechapel. Lots of Android manufacturers have now made their own chips, with varying levels of success. Samsung has the Exynos line. Huawei has its own HiSilicon chips. Xiaomi has made an extension S1 dash SoC in 2017 recently launched the Surge C1 camera chip in the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold, and it is investment In silicon designer. Oppo is working on Development of internal chips, very. None of the current efforts have largely outmaneuvered Qualcomm, and most of these companies (other than Huawei) still choose Qualcomm over their respective chips for important devices. Everyone, even Qualcomm, has counted on the same company, ARM, for their CPU designs, so there’s not much room for the difference between them. When everyone uses off-the-shelf ARM CPU designs, the main remaining areas of differentiation are GPU and modem, two areas in which Qualcomm excels, so it is captured for most major devices.

Companies that take hardware seriously do their best to separate themselves from ARM’s core CPU designs, choosing instead to design their own cores based on the ARM instruction set. Apple dominates mobile CPU performance thanks to its acquisition of a full-fledged semiconductor company. Quasi-PA, 2008. Qualcomm strives to catch up, Buy a novia, A chip design company founded by some former Apple chip designers, and plans to ship in-house built CPUs in 2022. Google has hired a few chip design personnel, but they were split between Seperate Hardware and servers, which are lackluster compared to purchasing an entire company. When Qualcomm isn’t currently shipping custom chips, I don’t see any way Google uses anything on off-the-shelf ARM CPU designs.

Google’s modem and GPU solutions will be an area of ​​great interest. There aren’t a lot of GPU designs to go around. Qualcomm has its own Adreno division, which it bought years ago from ATI. Samsung has it Deal with AMD For its GPUs in the future, but I doubt that this will be available in its partnership with Google. If this chip is really next to Exynos, Samsung and many of the other SoC vendors who also run SoC go with ready-made ARM Mali GPUs, which generally don’t compete with what Qualcomm has to offer. Samsung signed an AMD partnership for a reason!

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Imagining a modem on board a Google company is a challenge. You can generally not integrate a modem into a SoC unless you own the modem design, and Google has no modem IP. Samsung has produced chipsets with built-in 5G modems, but they don’t generally come to the US, so the Samsung modem will require you to share the design with Google and bring it to the US for the first time. Qualcomm, of course, The king A strong company with its modem IP and keeping competitors away from the United States, it is also a general leader in modem technologies such as 5G. Apple has so far managed separate cellular modems – the iPhone 12 today comes with Qualcomm’s 5G discreet 5G modem, which is perhaps Google’s most likely choice. Apple also bought Intel modem section For $ 1 billion, which indicates that it is working on built-in modem technology.

Besides the usual CPU / GPU / modem options, Google can also include some camera and a proprietary AI saucepan in the form of some kind of coprocessor (we also hope we’ll get our first Pixel camera sensor upgrade in four years). Google will likely also include the Titan security chip. Even if it did, I can’t imagine that much difference compared to something like shipping with a low-quality GPU or modem. Google has never shown a strong end user benefit from custom silicone in the past, just too much hype.

It’s hard to be optimistic about Google’s SoC when the company doesn’t seem to be making high-profile acquisitions and licensing deals by Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung. But it is at least the beginning.

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