Google is reportedly developing laptop chips as Chromebooks ship more units

Get a free Techzine subscription!

A report by Nikkei Asia reported that Google is developing customer central processing units for Chromebooks. The report cited three sources familiar with the matter, who also dished out more details about the search giant’s hardware ambitions.

The most notable piece of information has to be that Google is making CPUs for tablets, which means that the company could be looking to get back into the tablet market, which it exited in 2019.

Another detail concerns the search giant’s smartphone business. The company is said to be expecting strong demand for Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones, the newest additions to its Android handset lineup.

The road ahead

Google is reportedly planning to increase smartphone production capacity by 50 percent, compared to 2019, when Pixel sales reached a record of more than 7 million units shipped. Google’s laptop business, which is the reason behind its CPU development effort, is experiencing strong growth.

The company provides a lightweight operating system for laptops called Chrome OS that ships with Google-branded computers and hardware made by other partners in the space.

Sales of Chromebooks surged by an estimated 68% in the second quarter to more than 12 million units. Consumers adopting Chromebooks by record numbers is one of the factors behind the company’s decision to build custom CPUs.

A major commitment

Developing a custom CPU is not easy. The estimates say that designing a chip based on the latest five-nanometer manufacturing technology could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

It is not money Google can’t come up with and with this decision, one that it seems committed to seeing through, so it can sustain the rapid Chromebook sales growth.

The search giant may be hoping to switch to custom CPUs that could enable it to offer better performance than machines based on Intel silicon.