Most of the best Chromebooks on the market today are powered by Intel processors. However, it seems Chrome OS will not be supporting the upcoming next-generation of Intel Core processors, Ice Lake.
Last year, Intel ran into a variety of issues with producing their Cannon Lake generation of processors, which was originally supposed to shrink their process down to 10nm. We believe that these issues directly impacted Google with the development of the Pixel Slate, originally developed under the codename “Meowth.” Later in the year, we discovered that Google was dropping Chrome OS support for Cannon Lake processors in favor of Intel’s forthcoming Ice Lake.
We’ve now uncovered new evidence that Intel’s Ice Lake processors will also not be used in Chromebooks. In a Chromium commit from last month, Google disabled a handful of “obsolete” or “abandoned” boards from being used in Chrome OS. Two of these, “iclrvp” (short for Ice Lake Reference Validation Platform) and “dragonegg” are based on Intel’s Ice Lake chips.
More specifically, an earlier version of the commit message lists the reason for the removal of these two boards as “not pursuing ICL.” This comment, along with explanations for the other boards, was removed from the commit message, as fellow Googlers believed it to be too detailed.
So what does this move mean for the next generation of Chromebooks? For now, it appears that the next year of Intel-based Chrome OS devices will continue to be built on the existing Kaby Lake R technology seen in devices today like the Pixel Slate and Lenovo Yoga Chromebook.
Google and Chrome OS aren’t done with Intel by any means, though. Just this week, Google began working with Intel on supporting Tiger Lake processors, the successor to Ice Lake, expected to release in 2020. It should be interesting to see whether Intel’s Tiger Lake processors arrive on Chromebooks before AMD’s Ryzen does.
So far as we can tell, the move does not seem to be directly tied to Google’s recent decision to discontinue two tablet projects and cease first-party tablet development altogether.