It’s been basically a year since the initial report made its way around the internet that Google was working with Samsung to build out it’s own, in-house silicon for both Pixel phones and Chromebooks. We’ve talked at length about why this is a good idea and how it can really benefit Google’s hardware in many ways, but up until now it has existed only as a relatively-reliable rumor. But today, all that changes with a report from 9to5 Google stating that they have laid eyes on documentation that slates the release of the upcoming Pixel phones (likely the Pixel 6 and 6XL) housing something other than the Qualcomm silicon they’ve shipped with in the past.
Instead, these phones will arrive with ‘Whitechapel’ chips – the code name leaked for the Google-made SoCs nearly a year ago – dubbed internally as the GS101. It stands to reason that GS stands for Google Silicon, but that isn’t provided from the leak – that’s just a hunch. In this documentation, ‘Whitechapel’ was used in connection with a code name ‘Slider’ that has been previously found in the Google Camera app. It is believed that ‘Slider’ is a shared platform for the ‘Whitechapel’ SoC and appears in other projects related to Samsung’s Exynos SoCs that power Galaxy phones in other countries outside the USA. Additionally, the leaked document also cites this new ‘Whitechapel’ chip is being developed in Samsung’s System LSI (Large Scale Integration) division, giving us a hint that these processors will share a lot in common with the current lineup of Samsung’s own Exynos chips.
9to5 also reported earlier that the code names for the next Pixel phones after the Pixel 5a are ‘Raven’ and ‘Oriole’ and according to this new report about ‘Whitechapel’, these two devices will be the first phones built on the ‘Slider’ platform mentioned above. With all this evidence, it is very clear that Google is ready to launch Pixels with their own, custom silicon inside, and that is a very, very big deal. You can listen to our podcast to hear why we think that right here.
What about Chromebooks?
For now, there is no reference to Chrome OS or Chromebooks to be found in conjunction with ‘Whitechapel’ or ‘Slider’. When the first leaks of Google silicon appeared, however, the roadmap seemed clear: phones first, Chromebooks later.
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.source: Axios
Since that Axios article surfaced in the spring of 2020, we’ve been on the lookout for anything remotely pointing to an ARM-based, Google-made Chromebook and we’ve come up empty. I’d wager Google will get the kinks out in the Pixel lineup first and begin work on the Chromebook variant of the ‘Whitechapel’ chip sometime after. For the investment to make fiscal sense, they need to sell phones and likely sell quite a few of them.
As we all know, leaks happen profusely with Google’s hardware, so I’m inclined to think we’ll know a whole lot more about these new Pixel phones and the processors inside within the next handful of weeks. With Google’s tendency towards an October release of its main hardware, there’s plenty of time for the hype train to get on the tracks and start down the road, but I’d definitely rule out a Chromebook with this chip inside for 2021. Maybe 2022, though. In the meantime, we have tons of upcoming devices on the way and many of them will feature higher-powered ARM-based silicon, so we’ll all have a much better idea of what the next generation of ARM Chromebooks can do as we await more info on a Google Silicon Chromebook.