I did not include more tags, because I was not sure they apply: android and linux.
Maybe it would be good idea to add google tag (and apple and microsoft as well)? Or just add chromeos/chromebook as we have mac, windows, linux and all the bsds?
Heh, just yesterday I was looking at the Chromebook Plus, and literally thought “Well, I don’t know what the OP1 is, but it can’t be worse than rockchip.”
I’m really starting to dread the day that “apptops” are the norm, and you can’t easily buy a “laptop.” As somewhat of a luddite, I admit I’m not being exactly open-minded, but you’ll have to pry Emacs away from my cold, dead hands.
Did Google do the CPU design? Is Rockchip just doing the fabrication?
Odd world to have Google poised to join Apple as the best mobile CPU vendors. Maybe they got sick of Qualcomm’s relatively lackluster performance.
I’m not sure there’s any evidence for a Google-designed CPU; if it was happening, it’d be pretty hard to hide hiring a team of that size.
Right. Looks like an ARM-designed CPU core for sure.
Last October, a product page for the Plus, then branded the Chromebook Pro, was leaked, ID'ing the chip as the Rockchip RK3399. Some folks benchmarked a dev board with it. Some early announcements about it exist too, also tagging it as based on Cortex-A72/A53 cores and a Mali GPU.
There’ve also benchmarks out there of another A72-based SoC, the Kirin 950.
There’s reasonable evidence of Google ramping up at least more competence in chip design over the past 3-5 years than they traditionally had, which seems to spawn rumors of a Google CPU every time they hire someone. Anecdotally from the perspective of academia, they do seem much more interested in CE majors than they once were, plus a few moderately high-profile hardware folks have ended up there, which would’ve been surprising in the past. But I agree it’s nowhere near the scale to be designing their own CPU. I don’t know what they’re actually doing, but assumed it was sub-CPU-level custom parts for their data centers.
CPU design is also a really small world; it’s almost all the same people bouncing between teams. You can trace back chip designs to the lineage of the people who made them; there’s even entire categories “pet features” that basically indicate who worked on the chip.
Pet features, that’s neat. Like ISA features or SoC/peripheral stuff? Can you give an interesting example?
One example is the write-through L1 cache, which iirc has a rather IBM-specific heritage. It also showed up in Bulldozer (look at who was on the team for why). A lot of people consider it to be a fairly bad idea for a variety of reasons.
Most of these features tend to be microarchitectural decisions (e.g. RoB/RS design choices, pipeline structures, branch predictor designs, FPU structures….), the kind of things that are worked on by quite a small group, so show a lot of heritage.
This is probably a slightly inaccurate and quite incomplete listing of current “big core” teams out there:
Intel: Core team A, Core team B, and the C team (Silvermont, I think)? They might have a D team too.
AMD: Jaguar (“cat”) team (members ~half laid off, ~half merged into Bulldozer), not sure what happened after Bulldozer, presumably old team rolled into Zen?
ARM: A53 team, A72 team, A73 team (Texas I think)
Qualcomm (not sure what the status of this is after the death of mobile Snapdragon, but I think it’s still a thing)
nvidia (not sure what the status of this one is after Denver… but I think it’s still a thing)
Notably when a team is laid off, they all go work for other companies, so that’s how the heritage of one chip often folds into others.