It’s been a little bit since I last talked about ‘Geralt’ – the baseboard that will usher in a new wave of Chromebook tablets that house the still-unannounced MediaTek MT8188 SoC. As development tends to go with MediaTek-powered Chromebooks, things have been wildly active with ‘Geralt’, but on the actual device front, we’ve had little movement in the past few months.
Some history on ‘Geralt’ and ‘Ciri’
Two and a half months ago, we finally saw some action in this space with the introduction of ‘Ciri’ – a new MediaTek MT8188 board that was being branched off of ‘Geralt’. With a baseboard as long in the tooth as ‘Geralt’ currently is (it hit the Chromium Repositories back in July of 2022), you’d expect to see a few more offshoots by now. However, with other MediaTek boards over the years, the situation has been similar. Most work is done on the main development board before the variations begin to show up late in the game.
And even when ‘Ciri’ finally did show up in August, it was a single commit and no real motion on it has happened since. While I’m in no way giving up on ‘Geralt’ and ‘Ciri’, I’ve realized they may launch a bit later than I originally hoped.
Today, we finally got a second commit in the Chromium Repositories for ‘Ciri’, and though it is pretty run of the mill, there’s a file that contains the battery model currently in testing for this new Chromebook. Although it’s a model you may not notice at first, this very battery pack resides in a very popular Chromebook tablet right now.
If you run a search for a battery with the model number “L21M4PG0” you end up finding not just a Lenovo battery, but the exact battery that is currently in the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5. Add this to the fact that ‘Geralt’ began life by being tested with the exact same screen as the Duet 5 (though that exact panel has since been removed from testing) and we’re starting to see a pattern emerging that points to ‘Ciri’ possibly being a sequel to the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5. And I couldn’t be more excited for that!
However, as amazing as this would all be, I think we need to temper our expectations. As I mentioned before, ‘Geralt’ was being tested with the exact same screen as the Duet 5 before it was removed, so there’s a reality where this is simply a placeholder for ‘Ciri’ as well and it ends up being a completely different device altogether.
That’s just the nature of these things, and as much as I want to see a revamped Chromebook Duet 5 with the far more capable MediaTek MT8188 inside, the clues we’ve come across thus far are just that: clues. We don’t have anything yet with ‘Ciri’ that I’d call proof, and until we do, I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
Still, this is exciting and it is fun to think of a device as good as the Duet 5 getting some upgrades on the outside and a desktop-class SoC on the inside. It could finally make for a Chromebook that is great at tablet stuff and desktop stuff all in one package. The Duet 5 was so close, but held back a bit by the middling performance of the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2. With no Snapdragon chips on the way anytime soon, this is a chance for MediaTek to swoop in and deliver the first true Chromebook tablet that can fully replace a standard Chromebook on the desk. Hopefully we get to learn more at the MediaTek Summit coming up in just a few weeks!