The Chrome OS train just keeps moving down the tracks. As we grapple with the ins and outs of the latest flagship release, our eyes are constantly set on the future.
Where are Chromebooks headed? What features are coming?
Today, we have a long-view sneak peek at a Chromebook – more specifically a new Chrome OS board – that will feature Intel’s not-yet-released Cannonlake chipset. If you are like most people, Intel’s nomenclature is seriously confusing. The generational naming (i.e. – Braswell, Broadwell, Skylake, etc.) is confusing enough. On top of that, there are Core i, Core m, Celeron and Pentium lines that further remove clarity.
So, to keep this as simple as possible, we’ll leave all that to the side for now. All you need to know is Cannonlake is the development name for the first 10nm chip from Intel, it will be aimed at mobile devices (like Braswell, Apollo Lake, etc.), and it seems to be crazy fast from a recent benchmark leak.
10nm chips are already in the market with Samsung’s latest Exynos and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 (both ARM chips), so Intel is a bit behind right now with plans on Cannonlake shipping in Q1 or Q2 of 2018. By then, it stands to reason that both Samsung and Qualcomm will have released a 2nd version of their 10nm chip, so Intel will need to deliver something impressive.
Why Does 10nm Matter?
Again, keeping things simple, the nanometer process is the width between transistors inside a chip. The smaller that gap, the faster the performance. These nanometer processes have been shrinking as long as processors have been made, but getting to 10nm has taken everyone a bit longer to get right.
Intel is promising performance “a generation ahead” of its competition, and with the time frame it needs to be that good. Even as a mobile processor, early benchmarks are showing performance on par with quad-core Kaby Lake (7th-gen) Intel chips, so that is impressive.
The board we’re seeing in the repositories is referred to only as ‘Zoombini’ and looks to be a development platform much like ‘Gru’ was for the Samsung Chromebook Plus, ASUS Chromebook Flip (2nd gen), and possible upcoming devices. There’s not much in the way of details in the commits just yet, and for a device based on a chipset that won’t ship until next year, that isn’t a surprise.
It is just awesome to see Chromebooks staying right on the cutting edge of things.
I’m equally excited to see when we’ll get a Chromebook running on something comparable to the Snapdragon 835. Will Rockchip make a 10nm chip? MediaTek? Or will we see a new ARM partner bring the first 10nm chip to Chromebooks?
Either way, as the 10nm devices begin showing up early next year, it could be a whole new wave of slim, fast, and battery-friendly devices.
As always, we’ll update as we know more.