Google is actively developing its own custom CPU, codenamed Whitechapel. It is said to launch inside the Pixel 6. But how will it compare to Apple’s established A-Series chipsets?
One of the major success stories of the past several years has been Apple’s creation and deployment of its own custom silicon. Apple’s A14 chip was massively powerful and its M1 counterpart is now running inside Apple’s new iMac and MacBooks.
Apple joined the party late, starting years after brands like Qualcomm and Samsung, and yet it has now surpassed both of the aforementioned chip makers with respect to overall performance.
The A14, and the incoming A15, are monumentally powerful.
Given Apple’s success with its custom silicon, it’s no surprise that Google decided to do its own.
The first iteration of Google’s “Whitechapel” CPU will debut inside Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro later this year.
But how fast is Google’s Whitechapel CPU? Can it hold a candle to Apple’s A14 and A15 chipsets? What about how it compares to Qualcomm’s uber-potent Snapdragon 888?
Let’s find out…
Google Whitechapel Benchmarks
Because Google’s CPU is still technically unofficial, there isn’t much “official” information about its performance and/or benchmarks.
There is plenty of speculation, however, and plenty of thoughts and projections on what we can expect from Google’s custom silicon.
Leaks indicate that Whitechapel is a 5nm chipset, that will be produced in partnership with Samsung, and with respect to performance it will sit somewhere between Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 and SD888.
“Google’s focus,” notes Yogesh, a tech analyst, “is on ML & so the raw AI performance is matched to that of other leading mobile chips. Plus that Mali GPU is performing well under stress.”
This means Whitechapel will be no where near as powerful as Apple’s A15 chipset, or even the A12 or A13. It will also have a performance deficit to Qualcomm’s newer silicon – specifically the 888 and 875.
Machine Learning Over Performance – For Now
Rather than competing on raw performance, it appears Google is doubling down on machine learning and AI with Whitechapel – at least to begin with.
Building out a strong foundation, one based on machine learning, will pay dividends in the long run. The performance can come later, in future iterations. In this respect, it is a similar approach to what Google did with its camera tech.
Start with the basics, do the basics really well, leverage machine learning, and extract as much possible performance without relying solely on hardware.
From this solid base, Google will be able to quickly develop its platform and, who knows, one day in the not too distant future start shipping Whitechapel inside Chromebooks as well.
On the subject of GPUs, again, not much is known. Mostly, it is all speculation. But the consensus appears to be whatever happens the Whitechapel CPU inside the Pixel 6 will surpass the SD765G.
“Google may be using a Mali G78 GPU, the same one that Samsung uses on its Galaxy S21 though with slightly fewer execution cores,” notes Slashgear.
It added: “Even if it doesn’t have all the cores that the GPU theoretically supports, it’s still a significant upgrade over the Pixel 5’s Adreno 620 GPU which came with the mid-range Snapdragon 765G.”
Whitechapel + Pixel 6
As noted earlier, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will be the first phones to use Google’s Whitechapel CPU.
This appears to be all but confirmed right now – although things could change prior to the phones’ launch.
The obvious benefit of this switch by Google is that it gives the company way more control over the experience and performance of its phones – just like Apple.
It can then use rejigged versions of the chipset inside new product lines, things like wearables, tablets, and Chromebooks.
By developing its own custom chipset, Google will effectively have end-to-end control of its Pixel phones, and this can and will bring plenty of benefits with it.
By tightly controlling the software and hardware of its phones, and how they work together, Google should be able to extract more performance from its Pixel’s core spec without having to use masses of RAM.
iPhones run less RAM then most Android phones and, for the most part, they’re more powerful phones.
This is clearly what Google is looking to do with its Pixel phones.
In the long run, it will make for a better core experience, potentially reduced costs associated with manufacturing its phones, and, longer term, better overall performance.
It just might take a few years to get there. But that’s cool. Good things always take time – just ask Apple.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.