Currently, the most recent version of the Linux kernel that can be found in a Chromebook is 4.4 and that only includes a relatively small percentage of all the Chrome devices on the market.
With the exception of older Baytrail devices, kernel version 4.4 is found exclusively in Kaby Lake, Apollo Lake
Surprisingly enough, the 4.4 kernel isn’t new. Linux kernel 4.4 was released in January of 2016 and is actually second oldest LTS(long term support) release in the 4.x generation of versions.
Thankfully, due in part to Chrome OS’s rapid expansion in the premium market, upcoming devices will now be launched with the latest LTS release. The most recent stable kernel is currently 4.20 but 4.19, released in October 2018, was the largest of the past three releases and is noted to receive support updates for at least the next six year.
The first signs of the new kernel in the Chromium repository came in an update to the elusive Snapdragon Chromebook ‘Cheza’. Initially, I thought that perhaps the first-of-its-kind device might be getting an exclusive feature with the new kernel. However, after some digging, it appears that a number of in-development Chromebooks are also going to be using 4.19.
I quickly discovered that the octa-core MediaTek MT8183 processor would be running on the new Linux kernel and subsequently, Intel’s Ice Lake chipsets will be doing the same.
This made even more sense as I dug into what was new with Linux kernel 4.19.
- Support for Qualcomm Adreno 600 series hardware
- Initial support for Intel Icelake graphics
- Ongoing DRM improvements
- General touchscreen improvements
- x86 KVM improvements
There’s a lot more to 4.19 but the list above contains a couple of very important updates if Chrome OS is to continue performing in the same arena as PCs and such.
First, Qualcomm’s Adreno 600 GPUs are found in the 845/850 Snapdragons designed for mobile computing. The 4.19 kernel will be a must-have for these devices.
Likewise, support for Ice Lake processors is in the update and we know that Chromebooks with these chipsets are already well
This all bodes very well for Chromebook users. No longer are the days of buying new devices that are 2-3 generations behind the CPU curve and now, we’ll be rocking the most current version of the Linux kernel that is the heartbeat of Chrome OS.
To learn more about what’s new in Linux kernel 4.19, head over to OMG!UBUNTU! for a breakdown. In the meantime, we’ll be digging deeper to see what else to expect from this next generation of Chromebooks.
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Source: Chromium Repository