Until HP released its popular Chromebase 22 last year, there wasn’t much buzz around ChromeOS AIO (all in one) devices. While Apple has made the iMac for years and there are quite a few options for Windows-based AIO devices (even Microsoft took a swing at the form factor with their first Surface Studio), the ChromeOS AIO (a.k.a. Chromebase) hasn’t had that much of a spotlight on it.
The Chromebase 22 from HP did quite a bit to shake up that side of the market, however, and the company managed to not only deliver a solid performer in the Chromebase 22, but an interesting device all around. With the incredibly nice speakers in the base, the rotating screen, and a clean aesthetic, HP did what no other company had up until now: they made the Chromebase interesting.
On the heels of that bit of success, it seems more companies are looking to expand what we should expect in a Chromebase, and one move in that direction is to think about what it would look like to put a flagship ARM SoC inside of a desk-bound AIO. While it makes plenty of sense for companies to look to Intel processors for this sort of form factor since they are always plugged into an outlet, using an ARM chip could make for some pretty interesting designs as the need for fans goes away when we remove x86 architecture from the equation.
As you can see from the commit linked above, ‘Passionfruit’ is the start of this new movement, bringing ARM architecture to the ChromeOS desktop. For those unaware, the MT8195 is the high-end SoC from MediaTek that is in the new Acer Chromebook Spin 513 that we recently unboxed. Being only a few days into my review period for this device, I can tell you this processor is the real deal and I’ve not had to consider even once that I’m on a non-Intel SoC when using this Chromebook. Known externally as the Kompanio 1380, the ARM SoC in the Spin 513 will be plenty fast in a Chromebase and will keep the power draw to a minimum as well for organizations that may want to deploy these types of devices en masse.
If you are wondering who is making this device, don’t spend too much time worrying about that just yet. There’s a good reason we don’t see any particular manufacturer tied to ‘Passionfruit’ as it is being introduced as the reference design for this family of devices. That means we likely won’t see a device that is directly code named as ‘Passionfruit’, but will instead see a few devices at the least with this board under the hood.
With no need for fans and what will likely be very solid performance, I really hope we see a few interesting new takes on the Chromebase form factor that spring from this base board. I for one would love to see something like a detachable Chromebase that is a desktop/tablet device all in one. While I don’t necessarily see that coming anytime soon, these are the types of things manufacturers can toy with when the SoC inside is more mobile in nature. We’re a ways off from that point, but I’m very much looking forward to what could come from ‘Passionfruit’ and as we always do, we’ll keep digging until that happens.