Google’s hardware game has been unsteady at best as it pertains to phones and Chromebooks. Early iterations of the Nexus line and the OG Pixel Chromebooks were always considered developmental products that we never truly targeted at consumers despite their cult-like popularity. As of late, Google has taken major strides in the smart-home arena but the companies Pixel phone family has struggled to meet the unrealistic expectations put upon it.
Google’s latest Chromebook models have been a bit of a mixed bag. The Pixelbook was the herald of a new generation of devices but was met with a critical eye due to its hefty price tag. Regardless, the Pixelbook remains one of the best Chromebooks ever designed and despite its rocky start, the Google-y convertible found its legs and remains a very popular piece of hardware. Then, there’s the Pixel Slate. Google’s attempt at a premium Chrome OS tablet was a monumental failure if you look at it from a sales perspective. The Pixel Slate is a beautiful and perfectly built piece of hardware but alas, Chrome OS was still learning how to leverage tablet mode when the Slate made its debut and the astronomical MSRP made the Chrome tablet all but undesirable for even the fanatics like ourselves.
The follow-up Pixelbook Go breathed new life into Google’s Chrome OS game. The traditional clamshell is near-perfect in every way and for those not wanting a 2-in-1, it is hands-down the best of what’s around. So, what’s next for Google on the companies hardware roadmap? According to the site Axios, Google could be prepping to bring its phones and laptops to a new level with an “in-house” chipset co-manufactured with Samsung. According to the report,
Google has made significant progress toward developing its own processor to power future versions of its Pixel smartphone as soon as next year — and eventually Chromebooks as well, Axios has learned.Axios
The details are scant and the source is unknown but Axios states that the new chip, codenamed “Whitechapel,” is co-engineered with Samsung using the companies 5nm process. The processor will be an 8-core ARM-base chip and will be optimized to leverage Google’s growing AI and Assistant technologies. If these rumors hold any water, the Whitechapel chip could be on par with Apple’s upcoming A14 processor that features similar technologies. A processor of this caliber would not only put Pixel phones in a league of their own amongst Android devices, but it could also provide a powerful alternative to Intel and AMD CPUs for powering the next Pixelbook or Pixel tablet if Google jumps back on that train.
This news is exciting but not that surprising considering the fact that Google has been rumored to be working on its own in-house SoCs for more than a year. As Axios points out, Whitechapel is still in the early stages of pre-production so I wouldn’t expect to see anything about it any time this year. It’s plausible that Google is prepping this chip for the release of whatever Pixel phone is released at a hardware event in late 2021. I’m not holding my breath that Google will be making a Chromebook with this processor any time soon but then again, it’s Google. We’ll be keeping a close watch on the Chromium repository and I may even poke around the Android gits as well to see if and when Whitechapel makes an appearance. For now, this could be “grain of salt” news and we’re just sticking a pin in it.