The battle to dominate the premium Chromebook space is quickly heating up as chipmakers begin eyeing Chrome OS as a platform deserving of flagship-caliber performance and features. As it stands, Intel owns that space thanks to this year’s 10th Gen Comet Lake offerings but that could soon change if AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 3700C that powers the Lenovo 13C Yoga Chromebook is any count. If the AMD is anywhere near the performance of the Intel Core i5, the premium Chromebook space is going to enjoy some exponential expansion over the next six to twelve months.
Speaking of 2021, let’s not forget that Intel’s Tiger Lake will be heading to a top-end Chromebook near you touting the company’s highly-anticipated Xe graphics. If the rumors are accurate, the onboard graphics of this CPU could rival mid-range graphics cards. That will give Intel some wiggle room and leave AMD playing catchup but it appears that the maker of the Ryzen APU is already getting a gameplan together for the next generation of Chromebooks.
According to Twitter user ExecutableFix, AMD has leaked the details on a new series of APUs in the Ryzen 5000 family that features a mix of current-gen Zen 2(Lucienne) and the upcoming Zen 3(Cezanne) architectures. While it isn’t unusual to see unannounced processors added to the Chromium repository, Android Police’s Kent Duke has already unearthed three actual development boards based on the later Cezanne APU. These mobile-centric chips carry the U-series branding but that could be converted to “C-series” as they are developed for Chrome OS in the same fashion AMD rebranded the 3700 series to 3700U. This is likely little more than a simple name change and possibly some onboard tweaks designed specifically for Chrome OS. Check out the image below from Hot Hardware that details the Lucienne and Cezanne chips.
I wouldn’t count on seeing an 8-core chip in a Chromebook anytime soon but I could be completely wrong as it appears that Google is pushing to leverage more powerful processors for tasks like Linux apps and Parallels for enterprise users. If I had to guess, I’d say that we will see the Ryzen 3 5400U heralding the next generation of AMD Chromebooks but it would be great to see some more capable processors come to Chrome OS as the operating system matures.
The Cezanne overlay was added to the Chromium repository on November 19th with three subsequent devices following shortly thereafter. Majolica is the first board and according to its initial commit, it will be the development board which means it likely will not become an actual marketable Chromebook. Mancomb and Guybrush, however, are overlays and it is very possible that they could be the first of what will hopefully be many Ryzen-powered Chromebooks using these chipsets.
These processors are technically unannounced but I wouldn’t be surprised if AMD makes them official in the coming weeks ahead of the annual CES trade show that normally happens in Las Vegas in early January. That event is now virtual but you can bet that AMD will have some new hardware to show off and we’re hoping that includes the company’s roadmap for Chrome OS. Toss in MediaTek’s upcoming 8-core ARM SoCs and hopefully a more powerful Snapdragon chip, Chromebooks are quickly becoming first-class citizens and we love it.