Future Google Pixels Could Have Custom Google Chips

The search giant is considering building its own mobile CPUs

Google building (with a partner) its own chips could lead to more Google-specific capabilities in future Pixel phones, much in the way Apple brings custom capabilities to the iPhone through its bespoke A-series chips.

Google Pixel 4
Google's Pixel 4 currently runs Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 CPU.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Future Google Pixel phones could swap Qualcomm Snapdragon CPUs for custom chips built in concert with Samsung, according to a new report on Axios.

Not ready yet: Reportedly code-named Whitehall, the new ARM chip is still under development. This means it won't be available in time for Google's Pixel 5 devices, which might arrive before the end of this year.

Google will wait: The report pegs this custom chip arriving with Google Pixel 6 phones at least a year from now.

Why do this: As long as Google uses Qualcomm's mobile CPU, even the powerful Snapdragon 865 found in Samsung's Galaxy S20 and the new OnePlus 8 Pro, it will only get the capabilities Qualcomm builds into it. Co-designing silicon with a partner gives Google a say in performance and capabilities.

Everybody's doing it: Apple's been building custom A-series mobile CPUs, including the current A13 Bionic, for years, which allowed it do to things like build in a powerful neural network. Microsoft also recently partnered with Samsung to build its own SQ1 chips, which run inside the new Surface Pro X and upcoming dual-screen mobile devices.

What's in it for me: If the report is accurate, Google will fine-tune the mobile CPUs to provide consumers with better performance, battery life, and, with deeper hooks into Google's AI, a better Google Assistant experience.

The risk: While Apple's bespoke silicon is generally lauded, Microsoft's SQ1- running Surface Pro X wasn't so lucky. Google will want to carefully fine tune this chip before adding it to future phones and Chromebooks.

Bottom line: Google's quest for control could be your Pixel performance and feature windfall.

Learn more about Phones