So, yeah; this isn’t the greatest news. While I don’t think this is a cause for great alarm or concern, it definitely isn’t the type of thing you want to hear on the heels of Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 Chromebooks also getting canned last week. Alas, that’s where we are, and I’ve known about it for over a week or so at this point. The handful of Chromebooks in development with NVIDIA GPUs inside are no longer being worked on and – for the time being, at least – won’t be seeing the light of day.
I knew I ran the risk of getting scooped on this one, but I just didn’t want to put out such negative news about another group of Chromebooks getting cancelled in such close proximity. In reality, these decisions were likely made months ago and the cleanup is just now beginning, but the sad truth is we won’t get to see what the eventual combo of a discrete GPU-enabled Chromebook and a finished Borealis (Steam on Chromebooks) project would look like. And for that reason, I’m a bit bummed.
I don’t have to get into great detail to explain this one: it’s quite clear from the language in that commit above. As we discussed with the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 devices (based on the ‘Herobrine’ board), we’re seeing the same, simple discontinuation of both ‘Hades’ and ‘Agah’ in the Chromium Repositories as of the end of July. There’s no mixed language or hopeful translations of this message. Instead, it is quite plain that these boards are toast.
We talked about ‘Agah’ as our main point of proof that NVIDIA GPUs were on the way to at least a couple Chromebooks, and we referenced ‘Agah’ again when we discovered ‘Hades’. It was a device copied directly from ‘Agah’ and had much of the same references to NVIDIA GPUs, and it really seemed like a small family of devices was being built that would one day introduce dGPU-equipped Chromebooks with Steam installed right out of the gate. At least that was the plan, anyway.
But not all things work out like we want. While I’d love to think that maybe a different GPU (perhaps an AMD one) was in the works for a couple Chromebooks, that doesn’t seem to be happening at this point, either. What happened and where things went sideways could remain a mystery, but we’ve at least reached out to our contacts at Google to see what’s going on with both the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 Chromebooks and these NVIDIA GPU-equipped ones.
In my hopeful nature, I’m wondering if the path forward for this sort of thing isn’t support for external USB Type-C GPUs in the future. I’m not certain any ChromeOS device can even leverage one of these units right now, but if that became an option down the road, it would be a far simpler solution than building what would surely be a handful of expensive, niche devices with big GPUs on board. Either way, it’s always sad to see a Chromebook group get cut, and I’m hoping this is the last group for a bit to meet such a fate.