According to The Information, Google apparently gave chipmakers a road map for how it is thinking about the future of Android and what will be required to get there.
It also wants an image processor design that can minimise the camera delay in between photos for a “video-like stream” of images.
Buried in the details is the information that Google wants to add memory capacity inside the phone’s main processor so that the processor doesn’t need to reach into a separate memory chip to accomplish certain tasks. In otherwords it is talking about cache.
Google also requested “more powerful sensors so that the phone can collect more data on its surroundings.” It mentions “improved sensor hubs,” which presumably means Google wants to standardize or improve the “Android Sensor Hub” and always-on voice chip present in the Nexus 5X and 6P. Google is also looking to add “support for a wider range of sensors, including one that can measure distance,” something that would be helpful for AR and VR.
The Information mentioned that these talks originated “from Google’s efforts to find a manufacturer to make chips for an “enterprise connectivity device,” a plan that is still ongoing.
This cunning plan is very similar to Apple’s chip strategy. Under that approach Jobs’ Mob controlled hardware and software in a way that allowed it to move to a 64-bit platform.
At the moment Qualcomm has a near monopoly on Android SoCs, but it is more marketing driven than performance driven and has been doing a disservice to the mobile space lately. It rushed to get 64-bit support out the door which resulted in the very hot Snapdragon 810 SoC.
Google has apparently hired a senior product executive from Qualcomm along with several engineers from PA Semi, a chip firm that was acquired by Apple. Along with using off-the-shelf ARM designs as a starting point, it would seem Google has the expertise to pull off a chip design.