Acer Chromebook 315 AMD

Google has been hard at work bringing Fuchsia to a wide variety of devices ranging from IoT devices like the Google Home Hub to more traditional computers like the Pixelbook. According to a new code change, the next devices to get the Fuchsia “tap” will be the newly released Chromebooks built with AMD processors, like the HP Chromebook 14 and Acer Chromebook 315.

The code change, posted this week to Chromium’s Gerrit source code management, takes the first step toward AMD-based Chromebooks being able to boot Fuchsia. Before more complicated work can begin, a device needs to be able to boot Fuchsia’s Zircon kernel, the foundation of the operating system.

That’s exactly what the commit intends to make possible for AMD Chromebooks (based on the “Grunt” board), judging from its short description.

grunt: Enable multiboot images

Enable multiboot support for booting Zircon kernels.

Multiboot is actually a very complex subject, but for our purposes we can simply think of it as the ability to have more than one operating system installed on a device. It’s disabled by default for most all Chrome OS devices except for a few, namely the Pixelbook, Poppy-based devices (like the Pixel Slate), and Fizz-based devices (most new Chromeboxes). Other devices’ multiboot support had not explicitly mentioned Zircon before, though, which is significant.

None of the developers associated with the new code change have any known ties to Fuchsia’s development, and judging by a comment left by the code change’s author, it seems they don’t even have an AMD Chromebook to test with on the Chromium team side. It looks like the change to the AMD Chromebooks is being made exclusively at the request of the Fuchsia team.

I don’t actually have a board to test this on and I don’t think the Zircon kernel works on AMD yet, but they need this enabled to develop for it…

9to5Google’s Take

Considering development is only just starting, support for the full Fuchsia OS is likely still a long way down the line for AMD-based Chromebooks, but it’s clear Google is beginning to actively work on it.

One lingering question though is “why”? I’m very doubtful Google intends for Chromebooks to one day update from Chrome OS to Fuchsia.

The best reason I can come up with for the development is to get Fuchsia up and running on AMD hardware using equipment that is probably easier to get their hands on around the Google offices, like Chromebooks. Most AMD-based hardware comes with Windows, and we’ve seen before how difficult it can be for a Googler to get a Windows machine.

What do you think? Will Google let us update Chromebooks from Chrome OS to Fuchsia down the line?

Update: Corrected an overly simplified explanation of multiboot.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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