Tag Archives: Chrome OS ARM
I probably don’t really need to rehash the news that the Chromium codebase is showing signs that the Chrome browser is coming to Android devices. From a standards standpoint, doing this makes sense. Google wants to create similar browsing experience regardless of what device a user is accessing the web from, and there had been rumblings that this type of convergence was going to arrive at some point anyways. What’s more interesting is that Android is built for the cheap, energy sipping ARM processor architecture.
That’s a departure from Intel-based devices that Chrome OS run off of right now. And while the Atom series f processors do a good job, my experience with them in the first generation Chromebooks can leave room for more processing muscle. While having a few tabs open on a Chromebook is really not that big of a deal, it becomes much more problematic when you try to run, say, Pandora, YouTube and several Google Apps instances all at once.
This can be a problem, especially for companies that are interested in signing up for the Chromebooks for Business program. One of the things that still needs to be resolved is solid HTML5 virtualization in order to take the place of native installed applications users expect from a customary Windows experience. And sure, for work purposes people won’t be running Pandora, YouTube and Google Apps (I hope). But they still will need to be running relatively complex applications to do their work.
These types of webapps are a step above your typical web page. I often wonder, because of this, if using a dual core Intel processor is really enough. If it proves over time to be really limited, then Intel would need to theoretically chip in with a more expensive power hungry processor, barring some technological leap. But for the time being it appears that Google and Intel have some kind of deal in place to make sure that Atom processors are shipped out with Chrome OS device.
Yes, it’s still early days. I still believe in the potential of thin clients in both the retail and enterprise markets, but my prediction is that it’s going to take much longer than I first anticipated. It seems that along with this processor situation, Google has steadfastly tried to keep Android and Chrome very much two separate entities. I’m starting to wonder, then, if perhaps the best strategy going forward might be for the retail sector to work with Android – going up against Apple. Then, the Chrome OS side can go up against Microsoft in the enterprise market.
The inclusion of Chrome on Android doesn’t make this division any clearer. It’s a promotion of Chrome, for sure, and users will be able to sync up their Chrome instances. But where does this put the Chrome Operating System?
One of the big improvements that are being made from the test Chrome device, the Cr-48, over to the new commercial versions is the processor. In the Cr-48, Intel’s Atom N455 was considered the culprit (along with Flash) behind many of the video-related issues that people experienced. While over time the performance problems did subside, Google has decided to go with dual-core CPUs for the Chromebooks.
Whether or not you decide to go with an Acer or Samsung model, you’ll be getting an Atom N570 dual core at 1.66GHz inside the unit. This is a relatively new chipset that Intel announced back in March, but it’s likely that is has been tested on Chrome OS units for some time.
When looking at that sort of timeline, one can begin to forecast what we’ll be seeing in future Chromebooks as well. Intel is now trying to convince device makers to run Chromebooks on its yet to be released Cedar Trail line of processors.
It will be interesting to see this battle between Intel and ARM for future Chrome OS devices. While most mobile devices and tablets are based on ARM, most PCs still operate with x86 processors from the likes of Intel, among others.
During the Chrome team Q&A one Googler described ARM Chrome OS devices as “hot on the trail” of the current wave of Intel devices we’re now seeing. In terms of cost, temperature and overall complexity it appears that there would be some major benefits to run a Chromebook on ARM.
Do you think that Chromebooks should run x86 or ARM chipsets?
What’s the status of a Chrome OS ARM device? When will Chrome come to Android devices? Will SPDY be adopted outside of Google’s services in the future? How could I use a Chromebook to modify HTML? All of these are really great questions, and you’ll find the answers and a bunch more from this question and answer session with the Google Chrome Team.
Any questions that you still have about Chrome/Chrome OS? We’d love to hear about them.
Our pal Charbax from ARMDevices is filming over at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and he spied a Texas Instruments OMAP4 ARM Corex-A9 running Chromium OS. This is an open source mobile development board that you can get for $174. The guy in the video says it runs Flash, but perhaps not in Chromium OS because all I’m seeing here is HTML5 video.
The device here is called a Pandaboard, and you can get one yourself and run Chromium OS right now. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said that Chrome OS would run on ARM, after an initial run of the platform on Intel chipsets. Question is, when will that be? Do you think we will see a release of Chrome OS on ARM in 2011?
While the Cr-48 comes with an Intel Atom processor and devices from Acer and Samsung may also come with Intel chipsets, it cannot be forgotten what the potential is for Chrome OS on an ARM processor may do for the platform. Sure, Intel has the netbook/laptop market cornered, but Chrome OS will likely not be slotted into that market specifically. Other form factors will likely emerge, just as Google has envisioned at the Chromium site.
Granted, there has been some speculation about all-in-on ARM devices recently that could combine Android, Google TV and Chrome OS into one ARM-powered gadget and I wouldn’t discredit that from happening. I just wonder what wireless operators and satellite/cable companies would do should manufacturers try to put something like that on the market.
Speculation continues that Google will indeed release its own branded Chrome hardware device just like they did with Android’s Nexus One earlier this year. While there surely is going to be some sort of announcement on the Chrome OS platform over the next few weeks, its unknown if that will involve putting this device on the market via the web.
It’s being said that Google wants to release a Chrome OS product to the early adopter community to help foster application development. That sounds like a smart move. Chrome OS will not be able to gain traction without the support of developers creating quality webapps.
As for hardware specs, Engadget is saying the device will run an Intel Atom Pine Trail processor, while Digitimes is saying that the Inventec-produced product will run ARM. At the Web 2.0 Summit, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said about the processor, “initially Intel chips then ARM chips”. So we’ll see.
Ready for the Chromebook, or Speedbook?
Based on the Digitimes report about the Google-branded netbook running Chrome OS, an estimated initial run of around 60,000 will be produced by original design manufacturer Inventec. The Taiwanese-based company has focused their products on computers that are smaller scale, but as we have heard, the Chrome OS netbook they are developing will be larger fare, likely sporting a 12″ screen complete with a full keyboard and touchpad.
Could the real reason why Google wants to go through trying to release another hardware product be because they want to shake up the computer hardware industry?
As if it’s not enough forgoing Windows as the standard operating system for a device, Google is trying to change the culture that makes up the core components of a notebook-like device. As has been rumored, that may include using an ARM-designed chipset instead of one of Intel’s Atom processors.
Lilliputing has a report out that Intel’s oft-pushed around little brother in the semiconductor space, AMD, will be releasing a chip aimed at mobile computers. AMD has always been a lower-cost solution to Intel’s chips, and the release of this chip called Ontario offers both manufacturers and consumers better choice in processors for netbooks and tablets.
This information was provided to investors during a recent AMD earnings call. AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said that the performance and power consumption of the Ontario chip would be comparable to the Atom, although graphics capabilities would be better than Intel’s chip.
While having both the Intel Atom and now AMD Ontario as mobile computing options for processing is good, we’re still convinced that most Chrome OS devices will eventually run on an ARM solution. ARM offers more flexibility when paired with cloud computing and low-power capability than traditional processors.
Noticeably absent from the list of official Chrome OS partners is Intel, although many manufacturers that produce Intel-based solutions are taking a part. There is an overwhelming amount of ARM processor developers on the list such as Qualcomm (Snapdragon processor), and Texas Instruments (OMAP processor). Freescale Semiconductor, an ARM-licensed developer of the i.MX series of processors whose Taiwan office I had a chance to visit while I was at Computex, is also a part of the official list, which must mean something, right?