Not long ago, we reported on the removal of all development on the once-upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 Chromebooks. Though we were tracking a handful of these devices in development for quite some time, they all were abandoned and there’s been no real movement in the Chromium Repositories on the Qualcomm front ever since.
The beginning of something new
However, in the past few days, new clues have emerged that point to a possible resurgence of Snapdragon Chromebooks once again becoming a reality. And let’s face it: they really do deserve another shot. A proper shot. A Snapdragon X Elite sort of shot. After the relatively warm reception of devices like the beloved Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5, many were quite excited to see what the spec bump of the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 would deliver. Sadly, we’ll never know.
But there’s legitimate hope that something far better could be on the way. Now, don’t get too excited about that. What I’ve found doesn’t explicitly point to any Snapdragon in particular: only the fact that there are new Qualcomm boards being added in the Chromium Repositories. And that fact alone is enough to start wondering exactly what is going on, here.
Making sense of new Qualcomm commits
For now, there’s little we can glean directly from the files contained in these early commits. Each of them do include changes to exactly 3 files – layout.cof, make.defaults, and toolchain.conf – and none of those files lend even a slight clue as to what is going on with these new boards. So far, it’s quite generic.
But there are things we can learn from the changes being submitted as a whole that give clues to what might be happening. First, all of these chips and platforms are being worked on in the ‘chromiumOS’ repo, so we can know that whatever Qualcomm is up to, it will effect Chromebooks for certain.
Second, they are all more-specifically filed in the ‘board-overlays’ repo, so not only are these changes related to ChromeOS, they are clearly the early beginnings of new board overlays altogether. And that means future devices are likely to begin from this work.
New Snapdragon X Elite platform
Finally, in a couple of the commits, this new work is being referred to as a ‘new platform’, and that matters. At first, I wondered if these new changes were somehow linked to old boards or devices as that sort of work is obviously ongoing for current Snapdragon-powered Chromebooks.
However, seeing as these changes are introducing new platforms, I’m convinced that means a new Qualcomm chip could be on the way for future Chromebooks as well. And the fact that they canned the 7c+ Gen 3 Chromebooks in development and are now introducing a new platform makes me wonder if maybe – just maybe – we might finally get the best Qualcomm compute chips for ChromeOS.
Qualcomm recently had a summit where they debuted a new series of SoC called Snapdragon X Elite. The numbers they are presenting are pretty impressive, but we won’t really know how these devices fare until mid-2024 at the earliest.
There’s still a chance that perhaps Chromebooks could instead be prepping to finally get the older Snapdragon 8cx platform of SoCs (which would still be amazing), but I’d imagine if Qualcomm is moving forward with a new platform altogether for Chromebooks, they’d use the latest processors available, and that means X Elite.
Also interesting in all this is the fact that these commits waited until now to show up, just a few weeks after Qualcomm’s unveiling of the powerful, new X Elite series. Coincidence? Maybe, but I’ll let you decide. What I know is I’ll be keeping a very, very close eye on Qualcomm in the Chromium Repositories over the next weeks and months awaiting what comes next. And as always, as I learn more, I’ll let you know.