has evolved Google has built its own processors for its laptops and tablets, the latest sign that major tech players view the development of internal chips as key to their competitive edge.
The search giant plans to launch processors for laptops and tablets running Chrome OS around 2023.
The company is also ramping up its efforts to build mobile processors for Pixel smartphones and other devices after announcing that it is using internal processor chips for the first time in the upcoming Pixel 6 series.
The company’s increasing focus on developing its chips comes at a time when global competitors are pursuing a similar strategy to differentiate their offerings.
Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Tesla, Baidu and Alibaba are racing to build their own semiconductors to support their cloud services and electronic products.
Google was particularly inspired by Apple’s success in developing its own key semiconductor components for the iPhone, as well as the announcement last year that it was replacing Intel processors with its own for Mac laptops and desktops.
The new processors and mobile processors being developed by Google are based on the chipset schemes of Arm, the British chip company controlled by SoftBank that uses its intellectual property in more than 90 percent of the world’s mobile devices.
Separately, the company has high hopes for the Pixel 6 range and has asked suppliers to prepare 50 percent more production capacity for phones compared to the pre-pandemic level in 2019.
Google shipped more than 7 million Pixel phones in 2019, its highest number ever. But 3.7 million phones were shipped the following year as the virus swept the world, according to research firm IDC.
The company has told several suppliers in recent meetings that it sees huge growth potential in the global market. This is because it is the only smartphone manufacturer in the US that makes smartphones using the Android operating system.
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Google develops custom processors for Chromebooks
In terms of chip development, experts say Google’s strategy is a logical step. But it is not without challenges.
All tech giants are joining the campaign to build their own custom chips because in this way they can program their own features into those chips that can meet their specific needs.
In this case, these technology companies can adjust their R&D workloads without being constrained by their suppliers and provide unique services or technologies. The use of special chips also means better integration of software and hardware.
However, building chips requires huge investments and long-term commitments. And all those new tech players building their chips also need to fight for production capacity with the best current chip developers like Intel, Nvidia, and Qualcomm.
It now costs about $500 million to design an advanced 5nm chip, compared to about $50 million to develop a chip using more mature production technologies, such as 28nm technology.
Very few players have the skills or the financial resources to design their own chips. So players who are considering this path tend to be big players. Like cloud service providers, or they have very valuable applications for these specially designed chips.
Google began building TPUs to facilitate AI computing workloads for its data center cloud servers in 2016.
It revealed the fourth generation of the TPU in May. It employs engineers all over the world. It drew on human talent from its major suppliers including Intel, Qualcomm and MediaTek.
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