The Pixel 5 is a fine 5G phone, but it can’t compete with flagships from Samsung or Apple. It features decent specs, an improved design over the disappointing Pixel 4, and an ever-reliable camera, all for a great price in a year hit by massive health and economic crises. But that didn’t change the fact that the Pixel 5 was also a massive disappointment for many people who wanted a variant of the phone that could at least compete against the iPhone 11 when it comes to performance, if not the iPhone 12. The Pixel 5 wasn’t that.
But reports last year also gave Pixel fans reasons for hope. Google supposedly chose the Snapdragon 765 platform for the Pixel 5 to cut costs, but the company was already developing its own custom processor. Google would, thus, follow in Apple and Samsung’s footsteps. Google partnered with Samsung to manufacture its processors, which are codenamed Whitechapel, according to a report from April 2020 that claimed the custom chip would be ready in time for 2021 products. This report prompted speculation that the Pixel 6 would feature Google’s own silicon, and we now have the first rumor that indicates the Pixel 6 will have a processor made by Google.
In May 2020, Arm released new reference designs for chips that would power mobile devices in 2021. That included the new Cortex-X1, which is the most powerful Arm Cortex chip ever made. At the time, I speculated that the Whitechapel chip might use the new Cortex core design for flagship phones. Since then, both Qualcomm and Samsung have used the new chip designs in their 2021 flagships, and the 5nm Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 System-on-Chips (SoC) feature the same Cortex-X1 main core.
It’s unclear whether the Whitechapel chip would follow the same 1+3+4 core design as the 888 and 2100 SoCs, but 9to5Google has found evidence that the Pixel 6 would make use of Google’s new silicon. The blog saw documentation that says this fall’s Pixel phones will have Whitechapel SoCs inside. The Whitechapel chip is called “Slider” in the documentation, a reference that was also seen in the Google Camera app. Slider might be a shared platform for the first Whitechapel SoC.
Google refers to Whitechapel as GS101. GS might stand for “Google Silicon,” but that’s just speculation.
Slider is also connected directly to Samsung, as it includes references to Samsung Exynos. It appears that Whitechapel is developed with Samsung Semiconductor’s system large-scale integration (SLSI) division.
9to5Google says that the first phones to be built on Slider are Raven and Oriole, which are codenames for two Pixel phones the blog found earlier this year in snippets of code. It’s unclear what these phones will be called, but they’re likely to be released this fall as part of the Pixel 6 series. Google is expected to launch a Pixel 5a phone this spring, which will likely run on a Qualcomm mid-range chip. Other rumors say that Google is also working on its first foldable handset.
Like other Pixel phones, the Pixel 6’s secrets will probably leak well before the annual Made by Google fall event.