The NVIDIA Tegra X1 might be one of if not the most powerful, non-overheating mobile processor around but it is sadly found only in one solitary consumer device, the new Android TV NVIDIA SHIELD. That, however, might soon be changing with sightings of the Tegra X1 making its way to a class of consumer electronics that needs all that muscle the least: Chromebooks. If all the stars align, a certain board codenamed “Smaug” might be the foundations of a rare ARM-based Chromebook powered by the Tegra X1.
ARM-based Chromebooks are extremely rare. While the chip architecture’s balance of performance and power efficiency is great on mobile, it turned out that they underwhelm when it comes to running a bigger OS like Chrome. It’s a bit of a tragedy, considering that Chrome OS is one of the more CPU-agnostic platforms around. Intel has somewhat cornered that market of budget, web-oriented portable computers.
Acer’s Chromebook 13 is one of the most notable among its kind for its long battery life without gimping performance. It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that, instead of an Intel Celeron or Atom chip, it actually uses a Tegra K1, NVIDIA’s previous generation mobile chip. We’ve seen how the Tegra X1 easily surpassed that, so we can only imagine how well it will perform here as well.
Of course, there isn’t a Tegra X1 Chromebook per se just yet, but everything has been set in motion to pave the way for it. Chrome OS has added support for the CPU in its Coreboot, its open source equivalent to the BIOS firmware found in most PCs. Commits to the open source Chromium code base were also spotted adding specific support for “Tegra T210”, which is the Tegra X1’s other name. And lastly, Chrome OS also added support for a board named Smaug. This particular board not only ran on a Tegra X1, it can also run Chrome OS, leading many to believe, and to hope, that the first 64-bit ARM Chromebook is just around the corner.