From 2023, Google plans to use its own central processing units (CPUs) in Chromebooks and tablets that run on the Chrome operating system. Experts believe that if Google can make a custom CPU that rivals those from its competitors, then the company can gain even more brand authority for its premium Chromebooks.
According to Nikkei Asia, Google is also ramping up its efforts to build mobile processors for its Pixel smartphones and other devices after announcing it will use in-house processor chips for the first time in its upcoming Pixel 6 series. A source highlighted that Google has been inspired by Apple’s success in developing its own key semiconductor components for iPhones as well as 2020’s announcement that it would replace Intel CPUs with its own offerings for Mac computers and laptops.
Google is developing its new CPUs and the mobile processors based on the chip blueprints of Arm, the Softbank-controlled UK chip company, whose intellectual property is used in more than 90% of the world’s mobile devices. Sources also revealed that the tech giant major is also looking at upgrading its Pixel 6 range. As such, it has asked suppliers to prepare 50% more production capacity for the handsets compared with the pre-pandemic level in 2019.
Moreover, Google, as per research company IDC, shipped more than seven million Pixel phones in 2019, but shipped just 3.7 million phones in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Google has told suppliers that there is potential growth opportunities in the global market because it is only the US smartphone maker building handsets using the Android operating system.
Eric Tseng, chief analyst, Isaiah Research, told Nikkei Asia they found that all tech titans are joining the foray to building their custom chips because in that way they could program their own features into those chips that could meet its specific needs. “In that case, these tech companies could easily adjust R&D workloads without being restricted by their suppliers and offer unique services or technologies. In an ideal scenario, using one’s own chips also means better software and hardware integration.”
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It should be noted that Google began to build its own silicon dubbed tensor processing units (TPUs) to facilitate its workloads for artificial intelligence (AI) computing for its data center cloud servers in 2016, which were eventually unveiled in May 2021. According to supply chain executives, employees and company’s job postings, the company is hiring chip engineers from around the world – including India, Israel and Taiwan. It has already recruited chip talent from key suppliers such as Qualcomm, Intel, and Mediatek.