How I think that the ARM Powered Chromebook is a big deal for the industry

Posted by Charbax – October 21, 2012

I've been talking about ARM Powered Chrome OS for years now here on this blog (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). So you can imagine how happy I was to hear that Google and Samsung are launching the ARM Cortex-A15 Exynos5250 Powered Chromebook now today on Monday for $249!!! Here are some of the points that I think one can consider for how the ARM Powered Chromebook is a very big deal for the industry:

1. Chrome on ARM gets optimized, to use full hardware acceleration. It's important to have a web browsing experience on ARM in a 720p, 768p, 1080p resolution that be satisfactory to most users.

2. Chrome OS on ARM gets open sourced, means here's an OS to run on all ARM SoCs, this means that the $89 13.3" and $75 10.1" ARM Cortex-A9 Powered laptops, even single-core using VIA WM8850 for example, can soon ship with Chromium OS pre-installed.

3. Full Chrome on Android, with all plugins (including Flash, Java, etc), extensions, full tabs support, user interface for mouse and keyboard. This means a merger of Chrome OS and Android. The Chrome experience on Android should be as good as on a pure Chrome OS device. You can even have resume and boot-to-Chrome as a choice on Android, if you are using a device where you just want to use Chrome and that you may not care much about the rest of Android.

4. Gives a new purpose to ARM Powered Laptops, HDMI Sticks, Set-top-boxes and more. You can get a sub-$100 HDMI Stick to use as a Chromebox on your HDTV or PC Monitor. If you'd like to use the HDMI stick in Entertainment mode, it should be able to switch to Google TV mode.

5. Chromebooks are now sub-$250. This makes them very attractive to a majority of new Laptop buyers worldwide. I think that Chrome OS is going to dominate as the main OS for laptops and desktops worldwide. Though for that to easily happen, 13.3" ARM Cortex-A15 Chromebooks need to be sold for well below $200, the 11.6" ones should be sold towards below $150.

6. Combine the ARM Powered Chromebook with an 11.6" or 13.3" Pixel Qi screen, also wait for eventual full hardware optimizations to be automatically added to Chrome OS on ARM to take advantage of the Mali-T604 GPU and much else deep level ARM Cortex-A15 optimizations and you could have a battery life on your super thin ARM Powered Chromebook above 20 hours. This is game-changing for a super thin laptop.

7. Chrome OS forces App Developers to think Web First. That means better quality web apps. Expect high-quality online video-editing, photo-editing, word processing, FTP, programming and even gaming to work awesomely on the Web pretty quickly. That means web apps with full offline support, full cached acceleration for instant web app load times regardless of connection speed, Web GL for full GPU advanced 3D gaming including streaming of game info, remote 3D rendering and streaming of the highest quality 3D games, once all app developers think first about how to use the web to improve their apps, that brings the worlds best apps to everyone.

8. Upgrading the PC/Laptop is redefined. Consumers won't need to think about upgrading their PC/Laptop, unless they find one with a nicer design and style, with a different screen size or screen type which they may prefer. Upgrading a PC/Laptop for faster performance is going to be less and less of a reason for people to upgrade their computer. The most important specification is going to be battery life and screen technology. That is, if one can expect all web apps to load instantly on the ARM Powered Laptop, with unlimited simultaneous tabs opened smoothly at the same time, which is something we can expect on this ARM Cortex-A15 Chromebook.

9. You may think that this ARM Chromebook may not have yet an optimal performance. Consider that the web browser is perhaps one of the most advanced and complicated application on a PC/Laptop. Chrome on x86 is 50x faster than Internet Explorer was on x86 just 3 years ago. ARM Cortex-A15 is all new, so is Chrome on ARM, expect tons of optimizations to be beamed over the next weeks and months to come, as Google, Samsung and open source Chrome project engineers fully optimize the software on ARM.

10. You may think that the quoted 6.5 hours battery life on this initial ARM Chromebook may not sound like a whole lot. Consider that the power consumption governors may be cranked up to the maximum power consumption by Google and Samsung to prevent any slowdowns before Chrome for ARM gets optimized. As ARM optimizations are fully integrated in Chrome OS on ARM, you can perhaps expect this ARM Chromebook to magically suddenly be able to last more than 10 hours on the same thin and light battery.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other informations about how optimized Google and Samsung have made Chrome OS on ARM yet, if Google has announced much more about their plans to open source Chrome OS on ARM, if it's already open source, what you think we can expect for Chrome OS on lower power cheaper ARM SoCs such as RK3066, VIA 8850, Allwinner A10 and other processors that can be used in making much cheaper ARM Powered Chromebooks. Write also in the comments how many ARM Chromebooks you plan to buy, you are welcome to use my amazon link!

  • Tomáš Vaculín

    Well I’m still in wrong part of the world, so I need to figure out how to get it. But definitely I would like to have it.

  • obarthelemy

    I’ve been hearing about Pixel Qi’s screens for years, never seen actual available product with them. There must be a problem for no OEM to ever pick them up.

    Chrome OS is fine and all, but a computer which turns into a brick when there’s no Internet is still too big a liability. 16 GB of disk and only a handful of apps available off-line is ridiculous.

    Also, I know the cloud is all the rage, but if I don’t have my data locally, and backed up, then my data is neither guaranteed to be available nor guaranteed to be safe. That’s not acceptable.

    There is a strong demand for an alternative to Windows, and Linux keep fumbling the ball. My bet is more on retrofitting good keyboard+mouse handling and multitasking into Android than on Chrome.

  • Lesd

    The new Chrome book was announced a few days ago, and has been widely discussed around the web. Reading these discussions, I’ve noticed quite a few use cases where Chrome OS scores heavily. In one case, a physician wanted to access his records remotely… because data protection rules forbid him to store the information locally.

    Remote storage does not necessarily mean storage in the cloud. I work in a college and can remotely access the college network, on which my professional data is stored. The college owns several thousand PCs, and replacement costs make it difficult to upgrade; quite a lot of our computers are over 6 years old and use Pentium 4 processors without hyperthreading. They are painfully slow, but other upgrades take priority. Over the last couple of years, we have changed most of our student access to laptops to free up deskspace, and allow more flexibility in classrooms. All data is stored on the college network, accessed by secure network. The internal disk is never used. If Chrome OS software is able to read MS Office files, the college would be foolish not to consider replacing old hardware with Chromebooks, which have a Total Cost of Ownership around 30% of the TCO for a PC.

  • Lesd

    That should be

    “acessed by secure wifi”

  • anonranger

    ChormeOS vs Android. They should pick one and go full force with it on ARM. I love the $89 ARM WM 8850 13.3 inch laptop. Can you offer a member special on the 13.3 inch laptop?

    I am a paying member and appreciate your work on the blog.

  • Marc Guillot

    How I think that Chromebooks don’t matter at all :

    1) They don’t have applications.

    2) They need to be always connected.

    No more points are needed : they are useless paperweights for almost everybody.

  • Guru

    Dear Charbax, ARN in smartbooks is great idea, however this Chromebook will market failure.
    When SD cost some 10-20 USD, why smart folks want give all their business contacts, calendar events, Word/Excel docs clauses and details and their private mails to Google hands/analytical algos ?
    This is insane world. This is more crazy then once GeStaPo imagined.
    Folks, Wake Up ! Don’t give personal docs and data end pics to all sucking corporations !

  • Robert Jakiel

    Nifty toy but in all reality while Chrome OS is ok for someone who is always connected a full OS would make this much more appealing. A full on linux distro installed with full support of the Exynos 5250 as well as GPU support for accelerated 3D would make this a must have device. Otherwise it seems like it may be relegated to the nifty toy category.

  • Benoitb

    The hardware is very close to my dream device, but I don’t believe AT ALL in ChromeOS. So I’ll wait until there is Android or some Linux distro on that machine before considering the purchase.

  • Maventwo

    $249 for a ultra-Ultrabook without a fan is fan-tastic!

    Samsung Exynos 5 with their 5250 based on Cortex A15 in this Chromebook will of course with this cheap price be a winner.

    But I think Cartox A15 based SoC from Allwinner,Telechips,Rockchip,HiSilicon and all other ARM-developers from China will make this kind of ultra-Ultrabooks even cheaper next few years.

    Just think HP+Hynix Memristor and other types of ReRAM memories will come in massproduction in end of 2013-2014.

    This ReRAM memories will have same writing speed as todays RAM-memories and can cope 1 000 000 writing cycles in comparison to todays Nand Flash memories which can only cope
    100 000 writing cycles.

  • Marc Collin

    Not so crazy, check facebook…. 1 billions people account….

  • Marc Collin

    html 5 allow off line

    16Gig it’s not so bad, i installed a full complete linux distribution… total 4 gig

  • David Vincent

    i also would like to see if this model could be offered for members as well. definitely would like to try getting either ubuntu or chromeos on that model. also a paying member!

  • 3 million Pixel Qi laptops have been sold worldwide, mostly in the OLPC project. Of course, 300 million Pixel Qi screens hopefully by next year, including more 7″, 11.6″, 13.3″ is better.

  • 1) Chromebooks have about 200 million applications that run on them, they are called websites. New such advanced websites use even advanced native code, web gl in them, they can do anything that old windows/mac/linux apps could do, but now being cloud apps, they can have much better features in them. Video editing? try collaborative video editing with rendering with the power of 1000 servers. Photo editing? try collaborative photo editing. Whole new world opens up.

    2) HTML5 means apps work offline. For example in the airplane, you can edit documents in Google Docs, you can read and write emails in Gmail, and they all synchronize once you are back online. All web apps can work offline, that is part of the HTML5 spec. That not only means offline support, that means all web apps can launch instantly when you click on the icon even when you have a slow internet connection.

  • Android is likely more for touch devices, and I think a Google engineer already posted about how to install Ubuntu on this device. You can “easily” run Ubuntu from the SD card, but I guess it’d be best to run both from built-in flash, looking forward to info on how to do that.

  • You can host your calendar, docs and contacts on any web app you want. You do not have to use Google services on your Chromebook, I prefer to because I think Google online services are the best, but you can use any online service you want, simply type in the URL and bookmark it.

  • I’ll try to get some of the cool ARM Powered laptops on the members store. 13.3″ and 10.1″ definitely look cool, let’s see which may or may not also be able to run Chrome OS or Chromium OS and Ubuntu.

  • Please check back in the days and weeks ahead. Hopefully one of the manufacturers says yes!

  • Ray MK

    When the gristle-brains in the UK recognize that $249 = £156 (maybe £159), not £229 = $373, I’ll consider buying.

    Until then, they can keep them, ‘cos my 5yr old Asus 701SD with Puppy Linux installed, is far more useful.

    However, a larger screen would be handy.

  • $249 + 20% UK VAT ($50) = $299. So the price in the UK can be around £189 or £199 to be approximately fair. It usually is fair in Europe, if not at MSRP on the release date, then soon after, they do want to leave some nice big margins to encourage resellers to make huge amounts of free promotion and advertising for the device.

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