Google May Start Making Its Own Smartphone Chips

By Darren Orf on at

Google wants to make a better Android for the future. That means building a smartphone that can handle the technical challenges of augmented reality, virtual reality, and whatever else smartphones will become. And that means tying Android more tightly together with hardware.

A new report, published by The Information, says Google is working with chip manufacturers to build processors and camera components for Android phones. Just like Apple radically redesigned its ARM-based A6 chip for the iPhone 5 in 2012, Google may be looking to do something similar.

Android wants to build the future of phones because as declining Android sales have shown, Apple and its iPhone pretty securely hold the present market, thanks in part to beating Qualcomm to the punch by putting out the 64-bit A7 chip before Android’s own roadmap.

The future of phones, at least in the short terms, is AR/VR experiences, like Project Tango. So Google needs a specific chipset to leverage everything Android can offer because as computer scientist Alan Kay once said, as famously quoted by Steve Jobs, “If you’re serious about software, you need to make your own hardware.”

Ars Technica points out that virtual reality is hard challenge because it requires many smartphone components to be going full-blast at all times, including the GPU, CPU, camera, and accelerometer. To create a smartphone with enough power to do this, Google would want to fine tune a processor to make use of every available hertz it possibly could. The phones that would immediately benefit from this new chip would be Nexus devices where Google has the most control over hardware, software, and even carrier with its Project Fi MVNO.

All of this, it should be noted, is currently just rumours and hearsay, sourced anonymously, but the current climate for Android feels like it might be time to shake up the paradigm. The question remains as to who will actually make the chip. The report says Google snatched up top talent from Qualcomm and PA Semi, a chip company purchased by Apple many years ago, so it’s got the talent to design its own chip. But so far, it seems there are no takers for actually making new Google chips.

I guess those talks are currently ongoing.