Google is Developing Its Own Chip to Upgrade Google Assistant on Pixel Smartphones and Chromebooks: Report
Google is working on a processor to power its line of Pixel smartphones and Chromebook computers, according to an Axios report. The company is purportedly working with Samsung to manufacture the processor and ARM chip designs to build the processor, possibly named Whitechapel.
Processing the Future
The new processor is still in the development stage, but Google has already begun prototyping the design. The chip will supposedly apply Samsung’s five-nanometer manufacturing technology to ARM’s eight-core processor to Google-specific products. Notably, the chip will also enhance the performance of Google Assistant in the Pixel and Chromebook, the report states. The chip may be in the Pixel smartphone starting next year, followed by Chromebooks. Google has said nothing about the chip, officially, however. There’s no immediate reason the chip might be code-named Whitechapel, either. It may be a random choice, but Whitechapel is usually referenced as the London neighborhood where Jack the Ripper murdered several women in the 19th century.
If this report is accurate, this could portend major shake-ups in the industry. Google provides some of the hardware for Pixel phones, but the central processor is supplied by Qualcomm. Samsung builds chips for both its own devices as well as Apple iPhones, although they are designed in-house at Apple. Google may be looking to compete more directly with Apple on the high-end side of the smartphone market.
This isn’t Google’s first go at building computer chips. It debuted a custom chip back in 2016, somewhat scaring existing chip manufacturers judging by some of the contemporaneous reporting. Making a chip is, in some ways, just another step down the road to the tech giant becoming more independent of other tech firms, especially in hardware. In the short-term, at least, Intel and Qualcomm are unlikely to vanish because of Google’s move toward in-house chips.
Based on the report, the chip may be more about how Google wants to boost its AI and voice assistant capabilities. The always-on Google Assistant in smartphones naturally has room for improvement, and software can only go so far without hardware upgrades as well. A chip built specifically for Google is ideal for that. And Google is also keen to enhance the voice AI in the Google Chrome browser and Chromebook computer. The voice assistant is soon to replace regular voice search in the Chrome browser, and Google is in the midst of testing a “quick answers” feature on the Chrome operating system that uses Google Assistant to find information about any text selected on a website.