The recently announced 10th-generation Intel Comet Lake processors are coming for Chromebooks, based on new code in the Chromium repository spotted by About Chromebooks. Commits had already point to the creation of a new mainboard dubbed 'Drallion' built on Intel's latest 14nm process. Now that seems to be all but confirmed and with a good chance that the resulting gadget will be made by Dell.
No details have been listed yet with regard to exactly which chips will be used. Intel's new Y-series processors will provide up to 16-percent performance improvement over the last generation according to the chipset manufacturer. Support for LPDDR4X RAM is part of that package too, as is support for USB 3.1 and DisplayPort 1.2 via USB-C ports. More affordable models still utilize LPDDR3 RAM.
In terms of pure performance, the new chipsets each support more than 4.0GHz turbo boost speeds for single-core operations and well over 3.0GHz for boosted multicore operations.
Now, Chromebooks likely won't take the most advantage of those clock speed. But power efficiency is greatly improved with the new chips as well. So the overall improvements should be much more than those offered by any single component.
Is Dell looking to break out as the premium Chromebook maker?
The biggest hints at what exactly these Chromebooks will be stem from previous reports about Drallion. To begin with, these are based on the 'Sarien' and 'Arcada' boards in the Chromium Gerrit. That means that they will likely be released by long-time top computer competitor Dell.
That code was also spotted prior to this with hints at both a 2-in-1 and detachable device in the works. According to more recent sightings, Drallion has additionally been spotted with another codename — Drallion360. The implication of that is that Drallion will be a 2-in-1 Chromebook, possibly with a fully detachable counterpart.
Regardless of the form factor used, hints in the repository have suggested that a unique keyboard may be used for the boards Drallion is based on. Those are expected to include both secondary function key assignments and media-playback keys. The new extra row could take the form of something similar to Apple's Touch Bar or be entirely different.
Reports from earlier have pointed to specializations in terms of connectivity as well. Not only has up to Bluetooth 5.0 support been spotted for Drallion's board. That's being delivered as part of a Harrison Peak wireless chipset which is also pre-certified for Wi-Fi 6. On paper, that means the wireless connection with these Chromebooks might be up to 2.4 Gbps.
Coupled with the use of Intel Comet Lake chipsets, Drallion would immediately be one of the most capable Chromebooks or series on the market.
Comet Lake Chromebooks could still be a long way out
Several details about Drallion are still well under wraps. To begin with, the Chrome code commits don't point to a specific display panel. Screens used in testing even if those are typically close to the final device in specifications, even if the exact panel isn't used but those aren't generally tested till much later in the process.
Details about the ports and external hardware aren't likely to arrive until much later either. No hints about whether or not Dell will complete the package with a pressure-sensitive stylus have been provided.
Setting that aside, almost all of the commits point to the earliest stages of testing. The new device or devices might be as far away as a year or more at this stage.