Google wants to design its own Android chips

Google wants to design its own Android chips
Google has been slowly moving into the hardware game, first with the ill-fated Nexus Q, then the Chromebook Pixel, Chromecast, and upcoming Pixel C. Now, a report claims that Google wants to at least get into the game of designing chipsets for Android devices, much like Apple designs the SoCs found in iOS devices.

According to The Information, Google had discussions about designing its own chipset this fall and began because Google wants to build an "enterprise connectivity device". It is unclear what exactly that device would be, but it sounds like maybe an enterprise version of the OnHub router, or possibly even something related to the Pixel C. The report goes on to claim that Google's ideas went on to include potentially designing smartphone chips which in order to better integrate software features with hardware. 

The sticking points around the plan appear to be with Google finding a manufacturing partner and also with Google being able to convince hardware manufacturers like Samsung to use the chips it designs. Otherwise, it won't be very easy to see the benefits of a purpose-build processor with Android. Of course, knowing Google, we wouldn't be surprised to see the fallback of this plan being "open designs" of chipsets with features Google nudges partners like Samsung and Qualcomm into adding on their own chips. 

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26 Comments

1. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

Google has been so slow about this, they could make their Nexus phones, as long as they're designing the OS, they could make a perfect-match hardware to it.

2. galanoth

Posts: 428; Member since: Nov 26, 2011

Pixel phone. Google could do away with Nexus and have pixel as the hardware arm of Google. Like Microsoft has with surface.

9. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

itshappening.gif

10. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Will google be able to create its most powerful SoC with 4 Cortex A72 cores and 6 cluster GPU?

42. AlikMalix unregistered

Trolling ON: Google just gonna start designing their processors to run their software? Wow, apple has been doing this for decades!!! First Google dumps BB rip-off for Touch-Screen based OS omce Apple released the iPhone. Then they follow App Store with android market, and now they want to design their processors because Apple just killed with the A9 on the 6s with half the specs? Wow Google got a clue (or another clue). Trolling OFF... Maybe there will be a worthy android device for me in the future after all.

3. epdm2be

Posts: 822; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Google are bunch of weeny girls. They HAD their own handset manufacturing and design unit and they shifted the lot to some faceless meaningless Chinese no-name. Who the hell creates these articles? Get real. If I want fantasy I'll watch Harry Potter!

11. hwb01

Posts: 355; Member since: Apr 17, 2014

Since when is Lenovo some faceless meaningless Chinese no-name? Lenovo is a very large PC company, that is popular most anywhere. It's just that their phones are generally low-end and not sold in America. And, Google shifted Motorola on the right path, and now Lenovo is leaving Motorola alone and letting them do all the cell phone design.

33. epdm2be

Posts: 822; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

"Since when is Lenovo some faceless meaningless Chinese no-name?" Since I've NEVER seen a Lenovo phone or tablet in my country at all. The only Lenovo I see are a very limited subset of laptops at a few local computer-shops. And since Lenovo (as with all these stupid bozo's) doesn't allow their "Channel" (or whatever they call their IT-distributors) to sell phones, it'll never improve for me as a consumer. :-( It's the same with Asus. Although I see more Asus laptops in recent years (than e.g. Lenovo) I've yet to see an Asus smartphone :-( To me it's exactly like movies. When a device is market-ready it SHOULD be available for everybody but alas it isn't. But at least the movies eventually become available unlike the phones. Even GSMArena reviews and mentions devices which I will NEVER see in my country. Which isn't some third world hot dessert but a place in the middle of a supposedly wealthy Europe.

5. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

Haha that nexus q.. I remember that thing..

6. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

Too bad for you goole you don't just wake up one day and make a brand new cpu. It takes years and years and lots of experience. You are so far behind that there is no point even trying. You could have done something if you kept Moto but your way of thinking is always weird like Apple's. At least apple was smart enough to start its own line with its own cpu. You cant even design and make a phone by your self. I cant imagine you making a competitive cpu in the next 4-6 years. Not only that Samsung is kicking everyones ass with its own cpu and its own phones have actually its own made hardware mostly with exception of camera sensors. Your 6P has design flaws that yes an every day user wont notice but they are there. Plastic connectors that connect aluminium parts? Seriously is this 2002 or 2015?

8. Awalker

Posts: 1977; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Your post is filled with a bunch of assumptions. You have no idea what Google has been doing nor what they're planning to do.

17. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

What about the next 7 years?

35. epdm2be

Posts: 822; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

The N6P is a typical Chinese build. It looks 2015 but uses 2002 mentality of skimping on quality-components. Made worse now that every household brand uses Chinese manufacturing units to build consumer products. It'll only get worse.

21. shinywindow unregistered

Google has the brightest minds and a tight team. I have no doubt that something brilliant will be created or probably already has. They learn and test a lot of Shiz in their research projects I.e. driverless cars etc. No telling what chip they may have been working on. All hail google!!!! Lol.

23. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

All the brightest minds in the world won't help if you don't have a stable of talented microprocessor engineers, and as of right now, it doesn't look like they do. None of their acquisitions in recent memory have been of companies that specialize in this, so Google will probably be doing the "wish list" designing while the partner organization does the actual design. Good luck to them finding someone to make their dream silicon.

24. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Why would they need luck to find a partner to put their ideas into reality? There are plenty of places that do consulting work of that nature. I'd bet that companies like QC, TSMC, Mediatek, and even Samsung do that kind of thing. Maybe not regularly, but when you have an idea, you either hire people knowledgeable on the situation, or take the idea to a company who does freelance consulting. During my last career, I did plenty of that kind of work. A customer came in with a specific need, and it was up to us to make it happen. We did on occasion manufacture custom circuits to achieve the customer's needs, and if device count was too large, we brought in a company similar to ours who ran on a larger scale to handle the manufacturing and sometimes the design as well. It happens everyday.

29. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

They wouldn't be going to a silicon design firm to ask them for something they already make, they would be asking for something custom. The number of ARM Architecture licensees is very small, and all of those firms are doing work for their own products. I'm not sure Google, who is barely a blip on the radar in the actual hardware business, has enough pull to get one of these firms to defer priority on their own hardware to design something that may end up being a competing product. It would be tough for anyone, outside of maybe Apple and Samsung, to generate the kind of numbers that might make an Nvidia, Qualcomm, or Intel seriously consider doing that.

31. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

First, this isn't just for their Pixel or Nexus line, the article states it's for Android devices in general, which is a hell of a lot of devices. This seems to be a first step in them asserting some control over Android, by having hardware requirements like WP does. So if they're setting this up for all Android devices, I'd imagine one of those silicon design firms might want that kind of business.

39. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

There will never be a chip for all of Android unless every OEM but Samsung goes out of business. Google can't control Android, as a whole, in any meaningful way, and OEMs sure won't be lining up to cede control to Google. Hell, Google can't even keep Android One in line, so what makes you think flagship OEMs would allow them to dictate SoC choices to them? Take off the Google Goggkes and look around at reality.

41. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

If they weren't trying to do something like hardware requirements, there would be no need for a custom chip. And yes they can require it for OEMs to use the version of Android that includes Google's software suite which includes the Playstore. They would not be able to require it to run AOSP, but since anyone running strictly AOSP has no access to the Playstore, that wouldn't be an issue. By doing so it would ensure that they don't run into anything like in the past where certain apps couldn't be used due to the CPU/GPU running in the device. With a few chips certified for use, you ensure that all apps will run on any device.

36. epdm2be

Posts: 822; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

If Google has such "brightest minds" how come they aren't bright enough to see true battery saving capabilities of AMOLed-screens. Especially sine their own flagship devices uses these screens and since all tech-savvy people KNOW that black saves battery-power on these screens and white wastes the most! "They learn and test a lot of Shiz in their research projects" You mean they invent cool-sounding names for useless fluff like Sony does. Some of these cool-sounding but meaningless names like: Project Butter, Project Volta, XLoud,Trilumous etc... The phrase: "Much ado about nothing!" comes to mind when read articles like these.

25. Baracus

Posts: 223; Member since: Sep 15, 2012

Real chip manufacturers already make custom chips for Android so would be better that Google works closer with them.

30. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

Google might be responsible for Android, but they are a bit player in the Android market. If getting custom SoCs was so easy, Sony and others would already be doing it. We see how far LG went with their own efforts, and to date, the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, Samsung, is still using stock ARM SoC designs.

37. epdm2be

Posts: 822; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Which proves that "stock ARM SoC designs" doesn't necessarily mean bad designs. IMHO ARM develops great stuff, it's the chip-bakers that f**k up. In the case of Android it's Google who f**ked up Android. With that FUgly material design that completely wastes the technological merits of e.g. AMOLed-screens despite the fact that their own flagships devices uses these types of screens.

32. tokuzumi

Posts: 1900; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

They are basically just going to have store band versions of existing chips. I think they should focus on fixing the issues in Android, before they start worrying about making chips.

38. Hexa-core

Posts: 2131; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

It would be a great stuff!

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