"Kalista" Is A New Google Chromebase Reference Board

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By Daniel Golightly October 12, 2018, 8:23am
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In short: The baseboard referred to as "Kalista" in the Chromium Gerrit now appears to point to a new piece of reference hardware for Google's Chromebase Chrome OS platform, based on a comment recently added to the code. The comment in question seems to be in response to inquiries about whether or not the board it was initially based on, 'Fizz', should continue being used as a baseboard for Kalista. It expressly calls out Kalista as a "new chromebase reference" and states that Fizz will continue to be used as a separate firmware branch. Other recently added code also confirms that the green, blue, red, and amber LEDs typically associated with the battery charging status in Chrome OS will be tied to the power state and will pulse based on other variables. Moreover, comments within the code itself point to the fact that Kalista has no battery and will get its power from either "barrel port" or USB Type-C.

Background: Earlier commits to the repository were spotted near the end of September, with comments about the lack of an embedded Chrome OS keyboard indicating that Kalista might be something other than a Chromebook. The code also to point to the use of Intel's 8th-generation Kaby Lake chips as the basis for the hardware. The lack of an 'embedded' keyboard would suggest that the device would not have a keyboard that's physically attached. At the time, it was thought that the reference might implicate a new Chromebox or Chromebit. Chromebase, on the other hand, is the Chrome OS all-in-one platform. For clarity, the platform centers around desktop monitors which contain all of the components required for Chrome OS to run rather than relying on a separate box that connects to an external display.

The initial entries into the short-lived Chromebase branch of Chrome OS were launched back in 2015 and saw several generations of devices. However, the platform never managed to gain much traction in the mainstream. In fact, as of this writing, there aren't any Chromebase devices listed on Google's official Chrome OS device website and only four are listed on the search giant's enterprise-specific site. Each of those is a configuration of Acer's Chromebase 24, launched back in 2016, including a touchscreen-only version of the same gadget intended for use in business meetings.

Impact: Kalista is only a reference device instead of a new piece of consumer hardware. That means it doesn't point to a new product that consumers will be able to buy but to guidelines for manufacturers to work from. That doesn't mean there won't be any devices built on the Kalista baseboard either. While Google and other Chrome OS hardware manufacturers have placed emphasis on tablets and convertibles in recent months, a market for other Chrome OS devices could grow from the relatively recent introduction of Linux desktop software and Android applications to the OS. Bearing that in mind, this may also just be a new platform meant to continue the above-mentioned enterprise side of Google's hardware platform. For now, Kalista is still in its very early stages and more clues will likely continue to surface as development continues.

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October 12, 2018, 8:23am
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