It turns out that Google's latest top-tier Chrome OS devices, the Pixel Slate, isn't using the most premium storage option available, based on recent complaints spotted at Reddit. Some reports had bandied about that either all or at least the most expensive of the gadgets would feature NVMe storage but tests run by Redditors suggest that eMMC has been used instead. Although not entirely scientific, one Redditor notes that their Intel Core i5-enabled Pixel Slate was shown in a test to write at around 80MB per second. Making matters worse, it appears as though even the $1599 Intel Core i7 variant utilizes eMMC instead of the preferred NVMe storage option. The Redditors discovered the information by examining the storage information held at the Chrome OS system metrics that can be viewed at the URL "chrome://system".
Background: Historically, Google has included NVMe storage in its most premium Chrome OS hardware. It is featured in the search giant's Intel Core i7-based Pixelbook, for example. Each of the other models of the Pixelbook feature eMMC storage. That device was launched back in 2017. Conversely, the Google Pixel Slate launched in early October of this year but only began shipping over the past couple of weeks. The more budget-friendly variations of the device feature either an Intel Celeron Kaby Lake processor an 8th Gen Intel Core m3 and are priced at $599 and $799, respectively. That's backed by either 4GB or 8GB of RAM depending on the model and either 32GB or 64GB storage. In spite of the fact that all of Google's Pixel Slate tablets are exceptionally premium on the outside and share almost every feature aside from processor, storage, and RAM, neither of those was really expected to feature NVMe.
On the other hand, the much more expensive $999 model shipping with an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 backed up by 8GB RAM and 128GB storage was hoped to deliver NVMe storage speeds. That's leaving alone the above-mentioned variant — featuring 16GB RAM and 256GB storage. That was all but expected to come with that standard in place because the cost of the Pixel Slate is actually very close to the cost of a top-end Pixelbook model. That similarity extends to the fact that all of Google's current Chrome OS hardware ships without either a stylus or keyboard. The Pixelbook Pen costs an additional $99 while buyers are expected to pay an additional $199 for an official Pixel Slate Keyboard.
Impact: The disappointment expressed by consumers at Reddit comes down to the read and write speeds associated with each type of storage. Obviously, those metrics can have a sizeable impact on performance and in turn either improve or diminish the capabilities of the overall hardware. The disappointment is being caused to the fact that the more premium NVMe storage is substantially faster than eMMC, although it's also more battery-intensive. For comparison, the latest eMMC standards aren't slow. In fact, it can attain speeds of up to 400MB per second. On paper, NVMe can feasibly write data at up to 3500MB per second. Using those numbers alone, that makes NVMe faster by more than 7-times what eMMC can do. While the speeds users can expect from the Google Pixel Slate are nothing to scoff at, eMMC is going to put a damper on things for any user hoping to accomplish more intensive tasks with the new Chrome OS tablet.