Custom processors may come to Pixel as Google hires ex-Apple chip designer

Custom processors may come to Pixel as Google hires ex-Apple chip designer
Google has been slowly expanding its hardware division, most notably with the new line of Pixel phones. Now, it appears as though Google has interest in designing its own custom silicon chips with the new hire of an Apple alumn who worked as a processor designer at Apple for eight years. 

Manu Gulati announced on LinkedIn that he had been hired by Google to be the "lead SoC architect" for the company. Gulati has a long work history in processors, having previously been employed by AMD and Broadcom before spending eight years with Apple. According to reports, Google is looking to add more chip designers to the team as well. 

While with Apple, Gulati was reportedly "instrumental" in designing the various chips used in iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs. It is unclear exactly what Google's plans might be, but it's not hard to assume Gulati will be working on custom processors for Pixel phones, but there is also potential for work on Chromebooks, Android TVs, and perhaps even Android Wear smartwatches. 

At the very least, the hire implies that Google wants to have more of the top-to-bottom control over the Android experience, or at least the Google experience, similar to what Apple can do with iOS and iPhones or iPads. Of course, it's a bit too late for this to make any impact on the upcoming 2017 versions of the Google Pixel phones, but we may see the effects of this in 2018. 

source: Variety & LinkedIn

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25 Comments

1. vasra

Posts: 99; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Slim pickings. Should have gotten Keller, he's da man.

4. Myphoneisonfire

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 05, 2016

Expected launch should be in 2018 or 19

11. vincelongman

Posts: 5585; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Custom cores take time Samsung's M1 core took them 3 years to design Maybe we'll see a Google SoC with stock cores next year, but don't expect custom cores until at least 2019, most likely 2020 or 2021

2. Finalflash

Posts: 4062; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Can't hurt, need more competition.

25. Sidewinder

Posts: 515; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

Yeah otherwise qualcomm will become the Intel of the mobile soc space.

3. NoAllegiance unregistered

Hmm, I was wondering when chip makers would do what Motorola did with the Moto X. The phone with the custom Qualcomm SoC with a natural language processor and contextual awareness processor.

5. ullokey

Posts: 172; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

What Google did ;) I logged in to type this but beat me to it

6. Khyron

Posts: 397; Member since: Sep 28, 2015

but Moto x at that time suffered from bad performance

7. Nexus4lifes

Posts: 285; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

i hope Google is really investing in this approach with conviction. I would love to see a true google phone (like the apple iphone). Most of their efforts especially in the hardware side seem to lack conviction like nexus devices, pixel chromebooks, pixel c tablet which ended abruptly.

8. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Google slowly turning into a full-fledged hadware Company too... I see.

9. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

Having your own cpu and OS is the future. Pixel with custom google CPU and clean Android is going to be epicly good.

10. davthom123

Posts: 117; Member since: Mar 02, 2015

the biggest advantage apple have over android devices is in its custom built chips and Samsung seem to hold themselves back in regards to their exynos chip in order to keep it in line with their Qualcomm alternative phones

12. vincelongman

Posts: 5585; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Nope, Samsung isn't holding back at all In fact they've been trying in vain to catch up with Qualcomm's GPUs And Qualcomm have caught this year in terms of CPU

13. AmashAziz

Posts: 2869; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Samsung has been using Mali GPUs. So it isn't trying in that regard.

15. vincelongman

Posts: 5585; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

They used to use PowerVR GPUs but switched to Mali GPUs Even Apple's A10 with PowerVR, its larger die size and superior 16FF+ process couldn't match the 820's GPU in sustained GPU performance Qaulcomm just nailed it with their Adreno 500 series (unlike their Kyro architecture, their CPU team really let them down last year)

18. AmashAziz

Posts: 2869; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

The Adreno 530 was better than A10 in sustained performance. But lost in peak perf. I hope the 8XT-Plus in the A11 would fare better in this regard

19. vincelongman

Posts: 5585; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Yep, exactly, hence the Adreno 530 is superior overall (i.e. GPU architecture) Qualcomm could have better peak performance, but they focused on sustained performance and used lower clocks If you flash a custom kernel and set the 530's clocks to ~750MHz, it would have the better peak performance as the A10, but also similar throttling IMO the A11 probably will have better sustained performance than the 540 The 540 is just an optimized version of the 530, they didn't make it any wider Next year's GPU comparison will be more interesting, with likely Adreno 600 vs a more custom GPU from Apple

14. Ninetysix

Posts: 2931; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

If you're going to steal an idea, you might as well steal the people who were developing it, too.

16. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3935; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

What are they stealing?

17. AmashAziz

Posts: 2869; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

His brain

22. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Was there a brain to steal?

21. vincelongman

Posts: 5585; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

TIL Apple was the first to make their own custom microarchitecture Maybe Apple should also steal engineers from Intel, AMD and IBM Oh wait

24. tedkord

Posts: 17047; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Exactly what I said in the article about Apple confirming a self driving car and poaching Tesla engineers.

20. Greenmule

Posts: 128; Member since: Apr 24, 2017

People on other forums are speculating that this guy will spell the end for rooting and unlocked bootloaders.. And that Goolge has lost it's way from the original Nexus/Google Pixel (not VZW Pixel). Is google beginning to close the system and become the Borg of cellular? Google phone, Google browser, Google email, Google youtube, Google advertising policy all brought to you by the Google network.

23. jpkelly05

Posts: 110; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

I am guessing 3 to 5 years. You have to put into perspective, this will be Googles future probably. And if they are building SoC's, I beg to differ, this could go further that just phones or personal devices. Google is involved in so much more that we are not privy to have knowlege, for good reasons and bad. Me personally, I hope the make a quantum computer soon that works at normal temps. But ya, little to early for that tech to mature. Anyways, it takes time to build a team to come up with a new product, and many things come into mind for me that take time or can change time lines: conduct cost analysis, manufacturing, software development, hardware development, training, quality assurance, media control, and investor confidence, product doesn't survive R&D or customer needs/expectations. All that is being said here is that it is too early to make any sort of conclusion as to what Google is working on. This would have been a fun poll to see what most people think will be built.

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