Following a move to build their own silicon for their data centres and Pixel smartphones, it looks like Google will build larger size CPUs as well.
The news comes courtesy of Nikkei’s Taiwanese branch, who quotes multiple sources saying that Google hopes to unveil new chips for tablets and Chromebooks as of 2023. The move by Google is reportedly inspired by the massive success Apple has had with their custom-built M1 chips, which is due to be revised or upgraded later this year. The sheer success ARM has had in venturing into the traditional desktop and laptop space has caused many waves; even companies like Intel are building big/little designs for their future CPUs.
An interesting figure amongst all of this, quoted by Nikkei Asia, is just how much it’ll cost Google to venture into this space. Analyst Peter Hanbury told the newswire that it’ll cost around $US500 million to design a new chip on TSMC’s 5 nanometre process, whereas something built on the much more ancient 28 nanometre process would only cost about $US50 million. (For some form of perspective, the systems on a chip used for the PS5 and Xbox Series X are built on TSMC’s 7 nanometre process, while the original PS4 was built on the 28nm process (but later upgraded to 16nm with the release of the PS4 Pro).
Smaller chips, typically, mean you can pack more computing grunt into a smaller thermal envelope — which is hugely helpful for devices with restricted, or passive, cooling designs like tablets, thin-and-light laptops and mobile phones.
Google has been working on in-house CPU designs for over half a decade now, although until now it’s mostly been to bolster AI workloads in its datacentres. The latest generations of those tensor processing units will appear in Google’s Pixel 6 flagship phones, enabling faster computational processing in real-time for video and photos, better AI intensive mobile tasks, and more. The Pixel 6 line will also feature Google’s own mobile silicon that are supposedly nicknamed Whitechapel, according to documents seen by 9To5Google earlier this year.