Chromebooks get surface on the Internet after people go poking around in Chromium repositories quite often, and that's also what happened with "Birch," a new MediaTek-based Chromebook that's been referenced since January. While Birch has technically been around in name for a while, it's only now that some additional details regarding the device have emerged online. The new laptop seemingly uses the same system board as Acer's Chromebook R13, and is packing the MediaTek MT8173 chip. The Oak baseboard is also shared with another upcoming MediaTek piece, which has been dubbed "Hana" for the time being. Birch is reportedly going to be a touchscreen device in a traditional laptop format, and may be a sequel of sorts to the Acer Chromebook 11, but that information has yet to be confirmed.
The leap to an ARM chip in this device when the baseboard has supported many x86 devices in the past is a curious one, but with Chromebooks being as purpose-built as they are, the advantages are pretty clear. ARM processors, especially those from MediaTek, usually offer far better battery life than their x86 counterparts, and work better with Android apps. While x86 chips are a bit more powerful and can run full Windows or Linux operating systems if users desire them to, the difference in experience between a modern ARM chip and a decent x86 chip is practically negligible in Chrome OS.
For now, there's not a ton of info on Birch, so speculation is based on a combination of the little bit of information that's available, and past users of Birch's components, such as the Oak baseboard. If we are indeed looking at a sequel to Acer's Chromebook answer to the resurgence of the netbook trend, we're likely looking at a low to mid-range device that will pack a bit less power in exchange for stellar battery life. There's no information on the screen resolution at this time, but it's hard to imagine a device fitting this mold going any higher than 1,920 x 1,080; after all, the most recent Acer Chromebook 11 model only boasts a 1,366 x 768 display resolution that serviceable at this size, but nothing to write home about.