That’s a tough headline to write, folks, but it’s true. The now long-awaited Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 Chromebooks we’ve been tracking for months are all apparently being scrapped before ever seeing the light of day. And I’m a bit sad about it. While this batch of Chromebooks didn’t look to include any tablets (a substantial miss in my opinion), I was still very optimistic about the potential of the latest 7c Snapdragon SoCs in Chromebooks both from a performance and battery life standpoint. Alas, it looks like that future simply wasn’t in the cards.
The death of a baseboard
A quick refresher is in order in the event that you’ve forgotten or were unaware of this development board previously. ‘Herobrine’ (all the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 development boards were code named after Minecraft characters) is the primary baseboard for the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 project, spawning multiple other devices like ‘Evoker’, ‘Zombie’, ‘Senor’, ‘Piglin’, ‘Hoglin’, and ‘Villager’ along the way. With this many boards in the works, it feels jarring to see the following commits in the Chromium Repositories after months of stagnation around the project.
Alas, the messaging is quite clear, here: Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 Chromebooks won’t be showing up on a store shelf anytime in the near future. Why the project fell through is a mystery unlikely to be solved from repository commits and comments alone, so we may never know exactly what went wrong. What we know for certian, however, is the fact that this entire sub-category of Chromebooks will not see the light of day.
Making way for more MediaTek
On the flip side of this, work on ‘Geralt’ – the main baseboard for development on new MediaTek MT8188 tablets – is rolling along at a steady clip. With MediaTek devices in the past, we’ve seen steady work done on one board for the duration of the project, only to see variants arrive nearer the end of the development cycle. For now, we’re still waiting to see how many offshoots we’ll get from ‘Geralt’, but the different hardware tested for it would assume at least a couple different models are in the works.
And while I’m plenty excited by the proposition of a high-performance ARM Chromebook tablet or two (or three??), I’m still pretty sad to see the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 get the axe. I think we’ve yet to see the full promise of ARM SoCs in Chromebooks; marrying fantastic performance, battery life and Android app compatibility into detachable devices that are a pleasure to use. The Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 got us far closer in devices like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 and Duet 5, so I’m bummed that we won’t get to see a future generation of those devices with Qualcomm silicon inside.
For what it’s worth, there’s still work being done on Qualcomm chips in the repositories, and I’m in the process of digging a bit deeper to see if I can discern what exactly is going on. I have a hard time believing Qualcomm is simply exiting the Chromebook arena, but seeing an entire lineup of devices getting discontinued definitely doesn’t look great. With the excitement around the MediaTek tablets on the way, I’d imagine there still room for Qualcomm-powered Chromebooks. I just don’t know what that future will look like just yet.