The going has been slow to say the least. Qualcomm Snapdragon Chromebooks were supposed to show up in the second half of 2019 with the Snapdragon 845 chip on board, ready to shake up the ARM-powered Chromebook market with always-connected LTE, swift performance, and thin/light form factors.
Those promises made in December of 2018 never came to fruition and, unfortunately, were never really talked about much by Qualcomm as the months wore on. For all of us here at Chrome Unboxed (writers, readers, viewers, listeners), the waiting felt agonizing as development moseyed along on ‘Cheza’, the Snapdragon 845 Chromebook. After all, we’ve been tracking this whole effort since December of 2017, so to say the Qualcomm-powered Chromebook has been anticipated for a long time is a bit of an understatement.
In December of 2019, however, we saw a shift from Qualcomm that at least clarified both the delays we’ve experienced and the move away from the Snapdragon 845 – a phone-based chipset – and to a laptop-based chipset in the new Snapdragon 7c. While Qualcomm hasn’t even fully confirmed this move, the evidence is clear that work on ‘Trogdor’ and ‘Bubs’ clearly point to this new 7c chip that was announced alongside the 8c and 8cx chips by Qualcomm at their developer conference in December. These three chips are built with always-connected laptops in mind and the 7c makes way more sense in a Chromebook than the 845 ever did.
A new board has emerged
What that all means is much of the work done on ‘Cheza’ for the past couple years had to be adapted to fit and work on ‘Trogdor’ moving forward. From what we can tell, much of the groundwork that was laid is still good and has been shared, but I’m sure there were kinks to work out. And, not surprisingly, in working out those kinks and lining things up, we haven’t seen a bunch of new Qualcomm-powered baseboards in development. Frankly, that’s been a bit of a bummer. With a slew of ‘Hatch’ based boards out there (think Samsung Galaxy Chromebook) and a bunch of ‘Kukui’ boards as well (think Lenovo IdeaPad Duet), it has begun to feel like a two horse race.
Yesterday saw a few commits that may change that trajectory, however, and the first new Qualcomm board we’ve seen in a long while is here, based on ‘Trogdor’ and goes by the name ‘Lazor’. There’s little to know about ‘Lazor’ currently as it’s development just started yesterday, but there’s at least one detail we do have already: it will be a convertible, not a tablet. Outside of that, we don’t know much, but this new board does cause me to make an inference that, if fully realized, may signal the real beginning of the Qualcomm Chromebook arrival.
Back when we first saw ‘Hatch’, a new way of dealing with baseboards and their offspring began to emerge in the development process for Chromebooks. Instead of each device being its own project, we began seeing unibuild boards introduced and other boards simply based off of them. ‘Hatch’ and ‘Kukui’ are great examples of this, spawning tons of development boards and a few physical devices already in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, ASUS Chromebook Flip C436, Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, and the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet.
Along with these unibuild boards comes a .yaml file that basically outlines all the subsequent boards for each unibuild board. Here’s an example of a .yaml file for ‘Hatch’ that shows nearly all the boards we’re tracking. In it you can see all sorts of baseboards including ‘Kohaku’ and ‘Helios’ which are the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 respectively.
In a similar fashion, we now see ‘Trogdor’ and ‘Lazor’ in a single .yaml file and I would bet we’ll start seeing more boards added to this list in the near future. While the road has been slow and the transition from the Snapdragon 845 to the 7c has likely only added more delay to the process, it feels like we may finally be out of the woods a bit and Qualcomm is setting up ‘Trogdor’ to begin spawning more devices under its wing. We’ll obviously have to keep an eye on things as this develops, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to be writing another article just like this in the next few weeks as we see the next Qualcomm-based board show up.