MediaTek To Enter Chromebook Market, Others Could Follow
Ryan Martin / 2 years ago
Chromebooks have currently hit a pricing “brick wall” of around $200, you’ll be hard pushed to find anything cheaper than that based on current hardware solutions: but that could all be about to change. Enter MediaTek, the ARM giant famed for producing affordable, quad, hex and octa core CPUs for smartphones and tablets. According to Google’s Francois Beaufort MediaTek have submitted code for an experimental board with an ARM Cortex A7 processor to the open source Chromium OS project. What does this mean? Well it means that other ARM players are looking to get involved in producing the hardware for Chromebooks. If MediaTek get involved we could see the likes of Rockchip, Allwinner and many more follow in their footsteps. In fact, Rockchip have already demonstrated an ARM prototype Chromebook using its RK3288 processor and we’ve seen ARM solutions from Samsung based on their Exynos processor. However, Samsung’s Exynos processor is a fairly expensive chip so this hasn’t actually brought the cost of Chromebooks down. On the other hand MediaTek and Rockchip literally make dirt cheap ARM processors and if they can break into the Chromebook market then prices could start to tumble south of $200.
The main question now is whether such budget ARM processor from Rockchip and MediaTek are up to the job. We’ve already seen that most Intel Bay Trail and Haswell Celeron Chromebooks are faster than Samsung’s ARM Chromebook. Yet Samsung’s Exynos ARM Cortex A15 based Chromebook is also likely to be faster than any of the cheap ARM Cortex A7 based Chromebooks MediaTek and Rockchip would create. Is that sluggish performance going to be a viable option? Are consumers going to be willing to make that kind of performance trade-off to bring the price down to $125-150? We’ll have to wait and see on that one but certainly more competition and options can only be good for consumers.
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