When Android 12 rolls out, it's likely the Google Pixel 6 will be the phone that runs it best - Google is said to be working on its own custom-made smartphone chipset, that'll likely be designed to work hand-in-hand with the company's upcoming phone software.
In the past Pixel phones have used Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, but news has been mounting that the company will make its own chipset this year, and another piece of information has added to that pile.
As spotted by XDA Developers (opens in new tab), a Google engineer has left a comment and a link on Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code that refers to both "P21" (which is probably the Pixel 6) and "whitechapel" (which is probably Google's bespoke processor for it).
It's not quite on the level of an official blog post from Google head office, but at this point it would be something of a surprise if the Pixel 6 didn't arrive running some custom silicon rather than a chipset sourced from elsewhere.
Rumors of a Google-made chip with the designation GS101 Whitechapel have been floating around for more than a year at this point. It's reportedly being developed in partnership with Samsung, and will feature Samsung’s 5 nanometer technology and an 8-core ARM processor.
Chips with everything
In the last few weeks we've heard further reports that Google's investment in CPU technology is going to make its debut in the Pixel 6. Eventually, Whitechapel or processors like it could make an appearance in Chromebook laptops as well.
The benefit of working on its own chipsets or SoC (system-on-a-chip) silicon is that it gives Google more precise control over hardware and software integration. Whitechapel can be configured specifically for Android 12, Google Assistant, and everything else that will be making an appearance in the Pixel 6.
Google Pixel phones are already designed to show off the newest builds of Android - they're typically the first phones launched with each new version of the software - and by using homemade internals, Google could really shine Android 12 in the best light possible.
It's one of the advantages Apple has had for years, and is part of the reason iPhones can get away with much less RAM – the hardware and software in the phone are optimized to work very closely together. In comparison, when Qualcomm makes a chip like the Snapdragon 888, it's building it for a wide variety of devices and component setups.
What we don't know yet is just how powerful GS101 Whitechapel and the Pixel 6 will be, but custom-made processors usually offer a variety of performance upgrades and better battery life. We could hear more about the Pixel 6 at Google IO 2021 in May.