There are quite a few places we routinely look for clues on upcoming devices. A couple of the main sources of info are the Chromium Repositories along with the Chromium Bug Tracker. These resources provide tons of information on new devices in the works and it becomes pretty easy to forget to go elsewhere when there’s so much to look at and consider in just those two locations.
Geekbench is another source of great information if you know what it is you are looking for, though. For those unaware, Geekbench is a well-known benchmarking platform that can be used on all sorts of devices including Chromebooks. When a user runs the benchmark and registers a result, it is added to the database that is then publicly searchable. If, for instance, someone runs a Geekbench on a yet-unreleased device and you know the development codename of the device, you can actually get a bit of info on that particular unit.
Since it covers such a wide range of platforms, having a bit of clear focus goes a long way when digging around for upcoming Chromebooks. Luckily for us, we know the board names of many of the upcoming Chrome OS devices so we can search through the Geekbench results for all of these boards and see if we come up with a hit. Sure, it takes a bit of time to look through everything, but when we find a new benchmark, it is worth the effort.
Today is one of those days. Just this week a benchmark was run on a device called ‘Kukui’ with the motherboard listed as ‘Krane.’ For those of you who keep up here at Chrome Unboxed, those names won’t seem odd or out of place at all. You’ll recall that ‘Kukui’ is the new unibuild baseboard for a whole line of MediaTek 8183 powered Chrome OS devices that we expect to see very soon. ‘Krane’ is one of the the variants of the ‘Kukui’ baseboard and I’m honestly not surprised to see it showing up in benchmarks at this point. As a matter of fact, I searched all the other ‘Kukui’-based board names as well, but only found one other: Flapjack.
Flapjack was the original unibuild baseboard for this family of devices, but ‘Kukui’ took up that mantle for some reason a few months back. We aren’t sure of that reason, but it does look like ‘Flapjack’ is still being developed. There was rumor that ‘Flapjack’ was going to be a Google-made tablet until Google decided to stop making tablets, but that isn’t confirmed. What is for sure is ‘Flapjack’ is still under development and it was tested on Geekbench back in May. More interesting than ‘Flapjack’ being the only other MediaTek 8183 Chromebook tested, however, is the fact that the scores for the MediaTek 8183 have risen substantially since that time. Take a look at the score differences below:
Though both of these devices are Chrome OS, the difference in results show ‘Krane’ coming in between 10%-20% higher in single and multi-core scores. This is a great performance jump and it indicates that Google is really optimizing Chrome OS and Android pretty substantially for these MediaTek 8183 devices. Whether this is a general Chrome OS performance boost or simply an optimization for the MediaTek SoC, we aren’t sure, but the performance gains are real. With these scores, the MediaTek 8183 is approaching numbers like we see in the Pixel 2 XL and the Snapdragon 835 inside.
What that means is marked performance improvements across the board when compared with Chromebooks like the Samsung Chromebook Plus V1 or the Acer Chromebook Tab 10. Those devices get great battery life, don’t need a fan, and make for much more affordable Chromebooks: but their performance is pretty terrible. With this new MediaTek 8183 and the small fleet of devices coming to market with it on board, we’re expecting to see solid performance, great battery life, and devices that won’t break the bank. I predict we’re looking at a formidable competitor to the Snapdragon 845 Chromebooks we’re expecting later in the year.