We’ve not talked too much about Samsung’s mysterious ‘Nightfury’ Chromebook because, to be frank, we just don’t fully understand what it will be when it shows up. Knowing this device is packing the same basic internals as the nearly-amazing Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, it has felt a bit odd all along knowing that ‘Nightfury’ will eventually arrive with the same 10th-gen processors that the Galaxy Chromebook offers. With development beginning in February – right on the heels of the release of the Galaxy Chromebook – we’ve been a tad bit confused as to what Samsung’s angle is with this device.
Back in July, we uncovered the fact that this latest Samsung Chromebook would come packing a first-ever QLED display and we can draw a few conclusions from this fact. While QLED is a great display tech, it isn’t quite as impressive as the OLED that is used on the Galaxy Chromebook. Knowing this gives us a small hint that ‘Nightfury’ could end up as a mid-range Chromebook that carries a bit of the Galaxy Chromebook DNA but brings the price down to a more-affordable range.
Readying for production
It appears that ‘Nightfury’ is being prepped for production if we’re properly following the logic contained in a commit from the Chromium Respositories. While the commit message isn’t quite clear at the onset, we can see from comments that follow that the changes being made are in preparation for a firmware lockdown prior to this new Chromebook entering its production phase.
nightfury: Lock ME
TEST=Check BIOS logs for “ME: Manufacturing Mode” and ensure that it says NO.via the Chromium Repositories
We are working on identifying a version of firmware to qual for Nightfury. Is it appropriate to set this now, or wait until after qual?
If we attempt to qual the FW as production (i.e. “Final firmware” is set for the qual) then ME needs to be locked.
There are more steps to “locking down” the ME to ready for production. If you haven’t yet locked down the spi flash mastering registers, you’ll need to do those too.
As we can see, a change to the BIOS is being finalized for the change from ‘manufacturing mode’ over to production. This is occuring in the Intel ME (management engine) that is responsible for some high-level actions as your device boots up. The change happening here is removing the manufacturing boot up process and moving things over to a production level process as the device becomes finalized and closer to being ready to ship out.
In the comments below the commit message, we see this being worked out as steps are being made to lock this management engine in place for the device’s production stages. Most telling is the actual change that adds
CONFIG_LOCK_MANAGEMENT_ENGINE=y to one of the device’s config files. With this change now merged, it is clear the management engine has been locked down as of October 5th and is ready for production at this point.
While this happened a few weeks ago at this point, it is still unclear when we actually expect to see ‘Nightfury’ show up. With what we know at this point, we could expect this device to be in the process of being built right now and available in the coming weeks, but there’s no way to verify that completely.
It would make a lot of sense for Samsung to drop a new version of the aging Chromebook Plus in time for holiday shopping, but that timeline could be a bit too aggressive. Keep in mind the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook entered development in April of 2019 and landed in late March of 2020. This device was one of the very first Chromebooks based on 10th-gen Intel processors in the ‘Hatch’ family of boards. ‘Nightfury’ has been in development since February of 2020 and is being built on much of what has already been done in other 10th-gen Chromebooks like the Galaxy Chromebook, so development timelines should be far shorter. November would put ‘Nightfury’ on an 8-month development cycle and that isn’t actually too rare with a Chromebook based on an already-established baseboard. We’re keeping our eyes peeled and will update when/if we find out more.