This week, MediaTek is holding their annual Executive Summit in California and as part of the presentation, they spent some solid time today outlining their upcoming Kompanio 800 and 1000 series SoCs and explained a bit more about what we should all expect when Chromebooks with these new chips inside begin to arrive in the coming weeks.
First up, a little clarification: MediaTek is now branding their Chromebook chips as Kompanio, with three distinct tiers to differentiate both price and performance. The 500 series contains the SoC we see inside current devices like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (MT8183). The 800 series will be the new name for the MT8192 we’ve been tracking and will come initially in two similar offerings: Kompanio 828 and 820. Finally, the MT8195 we’ve previously mentioned will be the premium Kompanio 1200 and will be the first chip in the company’s 1000 series. In simple terms, 500 is for affordable devices, 800 is for the mid-range, and 1000 is for the high-end stuff.
None of this is new, but the performance claims we’re hearing from MediaTek absolutely are, and they are very encouraging. Acer debuted a new MediaTek Kompanio 828 Chromebook at their Global Press Event last month and we’re expecting it to show up in the next few weeks. There’s news of an ASUS model as well and we’re gathering info on that for an upcoming post, but it stands to reason that we’ll have some hands-on time with the mid-range Kompanio 800 series in the near future to test these claims for ourselves. With that said, let’s take a look at the numbers MediaTek is touting for these upcoming ARM-powered Chromebooks.
MediaTek Kompanio 820: impressive performance and battery
Though this first slide doesn’t lay this out up top, all these performance comparisons are versus the current-generation Intel Jasper Lake Celeron N4500 processor. If you’ll recall, we’ve talked about that processor being really good for affordable devices, so if these numbers hold up, the Kompanio 820 will be impressive. It’s worth noting that during the presentation it was made clear that the Kompanio 820 and 828 will also outperform devices currently utilizing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c as well.
While these numbers are all nice gains over the N4500, it is hard to really quantify things like ‘faster multitasking’ and ‘video streaming.’ What impresses me most about these numbers is the battery life (we’ll hit on that down the page a bit) and the 58% – 110% higher performance in gaming scenarios. With this being an ARM SoC, Android games will generally fare better on it than Intel-based chips, but that is a strikingly-large performance gap. If this holds, I think gaming on the Kompanio 800 series will be solid for sure.
In this next slide, MediaTek made some more real-world comparisons using Google Meet specifically, including screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, and web-based CAD apps running during a call. Across the board compared to the N4500, the Kompanio 820 is flat-out faster. MediaTek did point out that they ran all these tests and benchmarks with devices that have the same size battery, same resolution screens, and same RAM specifications, so these comparisons should be quite fair and point to the fact that everyday tasks will simply feel faster with this SoC on board.
I told you we’d get back to battery. In this last real performance-based slide, MediaTek pointed out the startling fact that the Kompanio 820 beats the N4500 in a few key areas surrounding battery life: form factor, battery size, and overall battery longevity. With a 33% smaller battery in these tests, Chromebooks running on the Kompanio 820 held up 31% – 51% longer than the same setup with the Intel Jasper Lake chips inside. That reduction in battery size means lighter, thinner Chromebooks that don’t sacrifice on battery life. Specifically, the company is touting 2.5 hours longer in video calls, 3.6 hours longer for games, and 2.6 hours longer in continuous video – all with a 33% smaller battery! These are pretty stunning numbers when you consider them alongside the across-the-board bumps in performance over the N4500.
When will we see the Kompanio 800 and 1000 series?
With this last slide, you can see a very vague look at the roadmap for these Kompanio chips. The 500 series launched in early 2020 with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and, according to the slide, the Kompanio 800 series should be with us already. While that isn’t the case – chip shortages, right? – we know these devices will begin arriving quite soon. Finally, that leads us to the highly-anticipated Kompanio 1200. According to this slide, it looks like we’ll see Chromebooks with this powerful chip inside in the first half of 2022. When pressed about the timeline, MediaTek said they expect a 1st-half of 2022 timeline with hopes that we’ll see the first device in the middle of that cycle. Maybe early spring? Maybe a sneak peek at CES?
Promising performance on the mid-range and high-end alike
We saw plenty of numbers on the Kompanio 800 series, but what about the 1200? What sort of performance are we to expect of MediaTek’s chip that they are now heralding as the most powerful ARM chip to ever be inside a Chromebook? While there wasn’t a whole lot of data around this topic, there was a point during the presentation where the Kompanio 1200 was compared to the performance levels of an Intel Core i3. To be fair, they didn’t say what generation of Core i3 they were referencing, but to be honest, even an 8th-gen Core i3 performance in an ARM package would be insane.
Remember, ARM chips are good at a few things: battery life, silent operation, Android app performance, and customization. Imagine the power of a Core i3 with the battery life of a tablet, no fans, high-end Android app/game performance, and a core setup that was put together specifically tuned for Chrome OS. Sounds like a pretty stellar combo, right?! We sure think so.
A clear goal for price points
Finally, MediaTek seems pretty sure on what sorts of devices they want to get these chips into. For the Kompanio 500, the goal is sub-$300 price tags. From what is on the market, that price point is largely in-line with expectations. For Kompanio 800, MediaTek wants to keep things in the $300 – $500 range and move up past that with the Kompanio 1200.
What’s great about this strategy is it gives a wide variety of options to manufacturers and consumers alike across the board for performance and for pricing. I’d expect 2022 to be full of choices for schools, consumers and enterprise buyers when it comes to looking for Chromebooks with MediaTek silicon inside. If the performance claims line up with reality, that will be a very, very good thing next year.