Chrome OS has matured to the point that development has reached a place of near-parity with other, more-seasoned operating systems. There was something exciting about arriving at CES 2020 and seeing not one but two Chromebooks bearing the torch for Intel’s Project Athena initiative. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 feature some of the industry’s latest hardware and are as attractive and versatile as just about any device on the market. That said, development is always moving forward and this week, we’ve unearthed evidence that Chrome OS could soon leverage some of Intel’s most advanced technology.
Intel Foveros 3D packaging
In 2019, Intel announced its new “Lakefield” hybrid chip architecture that would essentially be the stop-gap between 10nm and what may eventually be 5nm process CPUs. Lakefield utilizes 3D “stacking” to produce of sandwich of multiple cores of varying sizes. This allows the CPU to leverage a big.Little design that is similar to what ARM has been doing for years. Lakefield uses the 3D packaging, codenamed Foveros, to pair big Sunny Cove cores with lower-powered Tremont (Atom) cores. The stacking process is designed to increase power and performance while creating a more energy-efficient chipset. Lakefield’s successor, Alder Lake, is rumored to be the first desktop-class CPU to use this hybrid architecture and could feature up-to 16 cores stacked with the Foveros 3D technology. Despite no official timeline from Intel, the CPU has already made an appearance in the Chromium repositories.
crossystem: add support for ADL gpiochip
On Alderlake platform, the pinctrl (gpiochip) driver label is “INTC105x:00”, hence declare it properly.Chromium Repository
Alder Lake was initially rumored to launch sometime in 2021 or even 2022 but recent reports infer that the 10nm hybrid could arrive later this year. Chromium OS developer added support for the chipset just yesterday. Based on normal timelines for the development of new CPUs in Chrome OS, this puts the first Alder Lake Chromebook production somewhere in the realm of mid to late 2021 if Intel can get the CPU out the door and into the hands of OEMs. That’s not to say that it couldn’t be sooner but given the fact that this will be a new tech for Chrome OS, that likely won’t be the case. Either way, seeing Intel’s emerging tech being brought to Chrome OS this quickly is a promising sign for the platform. We continue to see Chrome OS devices pushing new limits and as more consumers and companies embrace Chromebooks, things will only get better. We’ll be keeping a close watch to see when the first Alder Lake baseboard makes its debut.