New changes to the Chromium Gerrit now seem to suggest that Google's next-generation Pixelbook may step away from Intel entirely if the company plans on announcing one at this year's hardware event at all.
The recently spotted commit in the repository is, on its surface, a simple outline of components that are being removed from Chrome OS devices of the future. Chiefly, that refers to previously used hardware that's effectively obsolete but comments in the code specifically mentioned Intel's still-in-development 10nm Ice Lake series. Those have since been removed but that reportedly means that neither Intel's Ice Lake or Cannon Lake processors will be used for Chrome OS.
These new commits follow Google's apparent decision to shift work to support Intel Tiger Lake processors on the platform, work that started last week with the chipset itself expected to land at some point next year.
What does this have to do with 'Pixelbook 2'?
Google recently revealed that it has all but abandoned both Android and Chrome OS tablet hardware but clarified that it has not finished in the laptop and 2-in-1 arenas. That means that sales of its Pixel Slate, already not amazing, are likely to drop while its original Pixelbook convertible laptop is two going on years old.
In Chromebook terms, that means that it is still an exceptionally good device but flagships like the Pixelbook need to be even better, with newer components and features.
So it isn't unreasonable to assume the next 2-in-1 Google-branded laptop will be arriving sooner rather than later and hints at the tentatively-dubbed Pixelbook 2 have appeared in and disappeared from the Gerrit over the past year or so too, adding strength to the speculation. Among those, code changes and comments have indicated it could support up to 60W fast charging.
The problem with that theory is that Google's Pixel Slate and Pixelbook each already essentially use the same hardware with minor improvements in favor of the newer, and widely criticized, Chrome OS tablet. Improved charging and possibly a better battery just isn't enough to make a brand new Chromebook, especially when every other Chromebook OEM will be competing at the same level on processing, memory, and storage.
Google could ultimately hold off for Intel's Tiger Lake processors before releasing its next-generation Pixelbook 2. That would leave the original gadget with around three years to go before arriving at its End of Life phase and ceasing to receive automatic updates — giving current users plenty of time to plan for an upgrade.
With that said, there is one other distinct possibility as well, thanks to yet another recent addition to the Chromium repository. Namely, that's the arrival of AMD's top-tier Ryzen chipsets on the Chrome OS platform in April.
AMD and Intel have a long history of rivalry and typically go back and forth with regard to which chipset can truly be called "better." So it may be the case that Google added Ryzen as part of the process of getting work started on its next iteration of the Pixelbook.
That could set the stage for a renewal of competition between OEMs on the platform and more choice to end users.