Last week, before Joe went out to Sonoma for the 2022 MediaTek Executive Summit, I found a few interesting new boards in the Chromium Repositories that contained the new, somewhat-mysterious MT8186 SoC inside. We’ve talked about it before, but when I found these new devices in development, I also had some embargoed information that made it a bit tough to come out and say what I found without looking like I was breaking our agreement with MediaTek to not talk about their new Chromebook processors.
Well, the cat’s out of the proverbial bag at this point, and MediaTek has made a duo of new processors public for affordable Chromebooks: the Kompanio 520 and 528. If those models sound a bit familiar, they should. The original Lenovo Chromebook Duet shipped with the Kompanio 500 inside (MT8183), even though it wasn’t clearly marketed as such at the time.
Since the launch of that popular device, MediaTek has really regrouped and re-branded around their Chromebook SoCs. Where there was once a non-branded naming scheme around their Chromebook-centric chips – MT8183, MT8192, MT8195, etc. – there is now a brand name and clearer naming structure MediaTek employs for their ChromeOS-focused processors: Kompanio.
And in that line, we have the 500, 800, and 1000 series that hit the respective levels of Chromebook availability. The 500 series are for affordable devices, 800 series are for mid-range, and 1000 series are clearly built for the higher-performance, higher-cost Chromebooks. For today, we’re focused on new devices that will utilize the newer 500 series chips that MediaTek has introduced to the public. On the inside, however, they are still refered to as MT8186 Chromebooks.
I’ve done the research and the cores in the MT8186 line up directly with what we now know as the Kompanio 520 and 528. Like the 820 and 828, we expect the 528 to perhaps employ a higher clock speed on some of the cores than the 520, but they will largely be the same in their overall core structure. But these new 500 series Kompanio chips are likely going to make some big strides over the existing 500 series SoCs currently on the market.
Namely, MediaTek has increased the large cores in these chips to Cortex-A76 versus the Cortex-A73s that were in the Kompanio 500. It also bumps the smaller cores up to Cortex-A56 versus the original’s A53. This all means better performance, better battery, and affordable ARM-based Chromebooks that will finally perform the way users need them to. If you’ve used the original Duet lately, you know the pain of a laggy, performance-starved Chromebook. It’s not the best experience.
New Chromebooks with Kompanio 520 and 528
These new Chromebooks we’re tracking shouldn’t have those issues. Though it’s a higher-end processor than the Kompanio 520, the Kompanio 828 in the Acer Chrombook 514 we reviewed was fantastic as a daily driver. The 828 has 4 of those big A76 cores and 4 of the same A56 cores, so when not under heavy load, we should see the Kompanio 520 performance on-par with the Kompanio 828 for general tasks.
The big difference in the two could come down to GPU power, and we’ll have to wait until we have a device in-hand to really see the difference this makes for both general ChromeOS tasks and for heavier activities like image editing, light video edits and Android games.
While we can’t know those exact comparisons just yet, we can let you know that we’re tracking 6 total development boards with these new chips inside, and that’s pretty exciting. While we’re not tracking any of them as tablets at this point, I’d wager at least a couple of these new Chromebooks will at least be thin, light convertibles. With ARM, fans aren’t needed and battery sizes can be reduced a bit, so we could see some highly portable Kompanio 520 devices in the coming year.
At the moment, we’re tracking ‘Steelix’, ‘Rusty’, ‘Corsola’, ‘Amber’, ‘Krabby’, and ‘Kingler’ in the Chromium Repositories. For an SoC that has just been introduced to the world, that’s a nice number of new devices in the works. I have a sneaking suspicion that we eventually will see another tablet emerge from this family of devices, but I’m still searching on that front. Either way, I’ll be keeping an eye on all these devices and any others that emerge until we begin seeing MediaTek’s latest affordable SoC hit the market.