Google chip design team bolstered by new Intel, Qualcomm hires

The Pixel Visual Core debuted in the Pixel 2 and was Google's first piece of custom silicon. (Source: Google)
The Pixel Visual Core debuted in the Pixel 2 and was Google's first piece of custom silicon. (Source: Google)
Google is continuing to ramp up its efforts in the custom silicon space. According to Reuters, the company has just added 16 new staff to its “gChips” team based in Bengaluru India with backgrounds working with chip makers include Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom and Nvidia.
Sanjiv Sathiah,

Device makers like Apple, Google, Samsung and Huawei are constantly looking for ways in which they can help to differentiate their products, particularly in the hugely competitive smartphone space. Apple has been the one to grab most of the headlines with its in-house chip teams delivering market leading A-series SoCs for the past several years in a row.  Samsung and Huawei are also heavily in on the act, producing custom Exynos and HiSilicon Kirin SoCs for their devices too. Google, however, continues to rely on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips for the most part -- at least in its smartphones.

However, this has gradually been changing in recent years. Last year, the Pixel 2 debuted Google’s first piece of custom silicon targeted at smartphones, the Pixel Visual Core, which uses machine learning to accelerate image processing, while reducing performance drain on the CPU. This year’s Pixel 3 debuted the second-generation Pixel Visual Core, while also adding a new custom security chip dubbed the Titan M. It is pretty clear that Google has ambitions in the custom silicon space. 

A new report by Reuters has dug up some interesting developments in Google’s gChip team based in Bengalaru, India. Some LinkedIn sleuthing has unearthed 16 new chip making engineers have joined Google, which it has plundered from the ranks of chip giants including Intel and Qualcomm. Former Broadcomm and Nvidia chip engineers have also joined the expanding team. Word is that Google plans to expand this team with even more hires, with some suggesting it could grow to 80 strong by the end of the year. 

The Indian-based team is said to be working closely with Google’s Silicon Valley team on refine and test new chip designs ahead of having them taped out by its fabrication partners. With Google making an increasingly wide range of hardware these chips could end up in other devices like the Google Home range or even future Pixelbooks and Pixel Slates. It is certainly an interesting development and one that we will keep tabs on for our readers. 


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Sanjiv Sathiah, 2019-02-12 (Update: 2019-02-12)
Sanjiv Sathiah
I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have grown to enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture out now on Spotify.