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Pixel 6 might have its own chip codenamed 'Whitechapel' (Updated: More evidence)

Update: A Googler was found referring to the codename in a comment submitted to the Android Open Source Project.

Published onMay 6, 2021

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  • A new report suggests the Google Pixel 6 could land this year with a unique, Google-designed chipset.
  • The chipset is codenamed “Whitechapel.” It seems to be connected to Samsung’s Exynos system and might share similarities with those chips.
  • A Google engineer was also reportedly found referring to the codename in a comment submitted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

Update: May 6, 2021 (12:40 AM ET): Folks over at XDA Developers have uncovered more evidence to suggest that the Pixel 6 could have its own custom chip codenamed “Whitechapel.”

The publication refers to a code change submitted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). While the change itself isn’t interesting, a comment made by a Google engineer refers to a “P21” device, which is likely the Pixel 6 phone for 2021. The comment also has a URL that leads to a specific section of a file located in the /android/device/google/gs101-sepolicy/whitechapel branch.

Whitechapel is the alleged codename for Google’s own chip and that this is the first time we’ve seen a Googler refer to it.

Unfortunately, more details about the chip aren’t available for the moment, but you can read through what we already know in the original article below.

Original article: April 2, 2021 (11:56 AM ET): Ever since the first Google Pixel launched in 2016, Pixel-branded phones have had Qualcomm chipsets. This makes sense since Qualcomm’s silicon is heralded as being the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to Android phones.

However, a new report from 9to5Google suggests the inevitable Google Pixel 6 might drop Qualcomm for something else entirely. According to internal Google documents seen by 9to5Google, the Pixel 6 could land with a Google-designed chip, currently codenamed “Whitechapel.” If true, this would be a tremendous shift not only for the Pixel line but also for the industry in general.

See also: 6 things we want to see from the Google Pixel 6

The document also suggests this chipset — referred to as “GS101” — could power future Chromebooks, too. Google declined to comment on the story.

Interestingly, 9to5Google claims that “Whitechapel” is deeply connected to Samsung. It’s very possible that the Google-designed silicon could be a customized version of an Exynos chipset. It’s even possible Samsung would produce the chips for Google.

Google Pixel 6 could be a game-changer

Simply put, this rumor is a big deal. If future Pixels come with hardware designed and maintained by Google, it would allow the company to have far-reaching control over the devices. For example, Google could custom-tailor the chipset to work better with its Pixel UI software — or even Android itself, which is a Google product.

However, the biggest change that could come from this is that it would allow Google to have more control over how long it supports its phones. One of the big reasons Android phones only see updates for about two or three years is because the chipset ages out. Without Qualcomm’s support, issuing updates and Android upgrades becomes increasingly difficult. If the Google Pixel 6 has a Google-made chip, though, that wouldn’t be as big of a problem.

See also: Which manufacturer updates its phones the fastest? (Android 11 edition)

This would put Pixel phones more on the level of Apple’s iPhones. Every iPhone runs on Apple-made silicon, which is why even iPhones from five years ago still support the latest version of iOS.

Of course, it is important to note that “Whitechapel” would be Google’s very first attempt at creating hardware of this kind. It’s possible it could have a rough start at the beginning. Hopefully, though, Google sticks with it, as this could be the boon its Pixel line has been needing.

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