For years, speculation has swirled around this topic. It started in 2007 when Google bought PeakStream, a startup with tools for programming multicore processors. It came to a head back in 2010 when Google bought Agnilux. The startup included former employees of PA Semi, the company Apple bought to launch its work on the A series SoCs inside its iPhones and iPads.
A few years back, Google made a few disclosures about its efforts in specifying board-level servers, calming speculation about any chip-level ambitions. But it seems time are changing.
Google built its own system to enable software-defined networking between its datacenters, although it said the system used off-the shelf chips. Last year it joined the Open Power Consortium IBM created to drive its Power processor architecture forward, but it's not clear what will come of that effort.
"We've heard Google is working on its own network switch chips a couple years ago," said Linley Gwennap, principal of market watcher The Linley Group in Mountain View, Calif. "I think they've been doing that and now the question is whether they will do their own processors," he said.
The rise of ARM's server initiative and its 64-bit cores enables such a push, but "with so many other companies building ARM server processors, you would think they could get what they need" without designing their own chips, Gwennap said.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times