The Chromebook platform was announced at the Google I/O development conference in 2011 and the first models were launched in the following few weeks. The Chrome OS platform is essentially the Google Chrome browser running over a minimal, lightweight LINUX foundation. It’s designed to be easy to use and easier to maintain: the computer does not need maintenance in the Microsoft Windows sense. Updates are regularly pushed out by Google and require a reboot to complete, which takes anywhere up to twelve seconds. Google has promised to support each individual Chromebook model for five years from new, which means customers’ computer should be reasonably secure for some considerable time.
When the Chromebook was launched, it originally ran over an earlier generation Intel Atom processor. Since then, we’ve seen Chrome OS running on both ARM and Intel processors. We’ve seen the Samsung Exynos, the NVIDIA Tegra and Rockchip processors plus all manner of Intel processors including Celeron and Core i5 processors. And it appears that we will be soon adding MediaTek to this list, as the System-on-Chip manufacturer has just demonstrated a non-functional Chromebook based around the 64-bit MT8173 processor at Computex, one of the largest information technology and computing shows across the world. The new Chromebook will be MediaTek’s first laptop computer and as well as containing the quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 processor and PowerVR GX6250 GPU combination, also contains a USB-C port. We don’t have confirmation of the screen size, resolution or amount of RAM that the Chromebook carries. The USB-C port could be used to charge the laptop, another device, or connect devices (such as auxiliary storage, a mouse, keyboard or other hardware).
At this juncture, we don’t know when Chromebooks containing MediaTek’s processors will launch but a company representative said that they could appear in the second half of this year or early next year at the latest. As regards to pricing, MediaTek’s mobile processors tend to be very competitive compared with the competition but this is the first time the company has ventured into the laptop or Chromebook model. We also don’t know how well the MT8173 processor will perform running Chrome OS – anecdotally it should perform well – if it follows the smartphone and tablet model, it is likely to offer creditable performance for the money.