As we get close to the end of the year, I’m reminded that we expected to see the first Chromebooks with a Qualcomm Snapdragon inside of them, similar to the HP Envy shown above.
These would be based on the “Cheza” reference design, which we saw first reported nearly 18 months ago. Chrome Unboxed noted back in February that Qualcomm said we’d likely see such Chromebooks in the second half of 2019.
With just a few weeks left before year-end, I don’t think that’s happening.
To refresh you, here’s what I had found when Cheza was first discovered:
- Reference to a 2560 x 1440 display, or WQHD resolution, which the integrated Adreno 630 GPU is more than capable of handling; that’s the same resolution pane used on many recent phones such as the LG G7 ThinQ, OnePlus 6 and HTC U12+. That resolution may just be for testing purposes as WQHD would be a 16:9 aspect ratio as noted by VictoryGoth on Reddit. The Snapdragon 845 supports on-device resolution up to 4K UHD.
- A Cheza overlay file for Chrome OS that specifies “detachable”, indicating Cheza’s display can be removed from a keyboard base like the HP Chromebook X2.
- Various options for USB Type-C, USB 3.0 and DisplayPort (DP) support for an external display
Obviously, using the Snapdragon 845 to power a Chromebook doesn’t just bring the processor, GPU, video and other I/O support. The chip also has an integrated Qualcomm X20 modem, capable of theoretical LTE download speeds up to 1.2 Gbps. Essentially, Cheza was expected to bring an always-on, connected Chrome OS experience with a long battery life.
Work on Cheza has continued, even recently, with a bug report filed and fixed just 10 days ago.
At this point, however, any devices built from this design would effectively be two-generations behind when it comes to Qualcomm’s silicon. Earlier this week, Qualcomm announced devices with the Snapdragon 865 would arrive this spring, following last year’s Snapdragon 850 and 855 system on a chip products.
So I’m not really sure what the point of continuing Cheza development is. Does Google expect its hardware partners to build Chrome OS devices with the Snapdragon 845? I hope not when they can offer improved performance and better power efficiency with a newer processor like the Snapdragon 865.
Curiously, there are code commits not just for the Cheza board but also for a Cheza64 board.
The Snapdragon 845 in Cheza is 64-bit, so the addition of the “64” on the new board may mean something else. And, I haven’t yet seen which chipset Cheza64 will use, so hopefully, it’s something newer than the Snapdragon 845.
Of course, it can easily take 12 to 18 months to develop a Chrome OS reference board, so if and when Cheza64 devices hit the market, we could already see even newer Snapdragon processors by then.