We’ve come across some interesting info regarding a new board, codenamed ‘Reef’.
What we know about it thus far is pretty sparse, but one particular characteristic of this board is very interesting.
First off, we are quite sure at this point that ‘Reef’ is not a device, but simply a base board. You can see in this link to the repositories the clear reference to ‘Reef’ as a base board.
It is important to note the difference in base boards and main boards when we talk about codenames and the commits. Base boards are testing/reference boards that can be used across multiple devices. You can see this master list of existing, announced devices shows base board, main board, and device codenames. Mainboard and device names are the same. Baseboards are the testing/reference boards that can be used across multiple devices. For instance, a ton of devices have been, and are being built on the Strago baseboard.
For ‘Reef’, we are sure that ‘Amenia’ is being built on it, with a couple other devices we are still hunting down details for. ‘Reef’ is an Apollo Lake board and will likely be a board used in a lot of upcoming devices. As we’ve seen with ‘Strago’, base boards used for Intel’s Atom chips (Baytrail, Cherrytrail, Braswell and now Apollo Lake) get plenty of attention. As we’ve reported, Apollo Lake is set to bring a 30% performance boost and extended battery life over it’s predecessor, but will still remain one of Intel’s more affordable options.
The most interesting things we’ve seen for ‘Reef’ thus far are definitely the references in this file to RAM chips being tested. As ‘Reef’ will likely power multiple devices, the things we are seeing are very, very encouraging!
First up, the first references to DDR4 RAM for Chromebooks. Many of you may be saying to yourselves, “I don’t even know what that means.”
That’s why we are here!
Here’s the quick version. DDR3 (Double Data Rate) memory has been around for about 8 years. It’s been in a TON of devices and is still great, honestly. But, as these things go, a new standard has come and we now have DDR4. It is faster (without technical peak speeds…yet) and more power efficient. That’s what you really need to know, but if you want to read the nitty-gritty details, How-To Geek has covered this very well.
Not only do we see the latest type of RAM, we also see clear reference to testing of 4GB, 8GB and 16GB setups. Straight form the romstage.c file in the ‘Reef’ repository:
While the parts are listed at 16Gb there are 2 ranks per channel so indicate the density as 8Gb per rank.
What’s really great is the lack of mention of 2GB anywhere in the file. If you ask me, 2GB devices need to simply stop being made. We can go back and forth on that, but the cost savings don’t justify the severe lack in performance. I digress.
So that’s what we know about ‘Reef’ so far. Apollo Lake, faster DDR4 RAM, and configurations up to 16GB. While we will certainly see lots more out of ‘Reef’, our excitement is really about base boards in the more affordable segment seeing these kinds of upgrades. It makes me that much more ready to see the first ‘Reef’ device; and hopefully soon!