The dust is beginning to settle from the release of the Chromebook Pixel and the editorials are focusing on what this means.
It all about setting expectations. The Chromebook Pixel proudly states cloud computing is here, is ready for prime time, and is deserving of a premium device.
But the Pixel has an architectural flaw most folks recognize.
- Do you need an Intel® Core™ i5 Dual Core Processor in order to leverage the web?
- Do you need an Intel® HD Graphics 4000 GPU to render a 2560 x 1700 screen?
- Do you need to spend $1,300 for a Pixel like user experience?
The answer to all of these questions is – NO! The nVidia Tegra 4 is a smart Chromebook choice and here is why. Of the currently available SoC’s it delivers on key requirements.
The big selling point of the Pixel is the screen.
- 12.85″ display with a 3:2 aspect ratio
- 2560 x 1700, at 239 PPI
- 400 nit screen
- 178° extra-wide viewing angle
Tegra 4 is capable of outputting 1080p @ 120Hz, full hardware encode/decode for video up to 2560×1440 (1440p), and a maximum output resolution of 3820×2160 (4K). This GPU prowess is evidenced by the Vizio announcement a forth coming Tegra 4 tablet which will feature the same fantastic 2560 x 1600 resolution found on the Nexus 10.
In summary it looks like nVidia has the chops to deliver the same or better display experience as the Pixel.
Does the Tegra 4 have more computing horse power than an Intel Core i5-3427U? Of coarse not, but does it have enough to deliver a high quality user experience?
Barron’s reports the following.
At MWC, the company (nVidia) continued its product reve- lation by disclosing new details of the architecture and its capabilities (as well as limitations). Judging from this pre- liminary information, Tegra 4 rates as the highest-perform-ing mobile ARM processor—if power constraints don’t throttle the cores. This performance takes aim at Qual- comm’s newest Snapdragon processors; Nvidia offered a wide range of benchmark results that clearly showed Tegra 4 leading both the APQ8064 and (judging from our estimates) the forthcoming Snapdragon 800 […] We also estimated the performance of the Snap- dragon Series 800, assuming that it will achieve its rated 2.3GHz clock speed and applying a 10% gain to represent the improvements from the Krait 200 CPU to the Krait 400 CPU. This approach is probably optimistic, as most bench- mark scores do not improve linearly with CPU speed, although the Series 800 will also get a boost from faster DRAM. Based on these estimates, even Qualcomm’s best processor, which is due to enter production at about the same time as Tegra 4, won’t surpass Nvidia in these tests.
The Tegra 4 also completes well with current Chromebooks using the Intel Celeron 847 processor. CPU Boss rates the Tegra very favorably over the Intel 847 and the faster 847E.
Pricing is difficult to establish as it is often tied to volume but the estimated the price of an Intel 847 is $70, the Intel Core i5-3427U is $120, and the nVidia Tegra 4 is $40. As a SoC, the Tegra 4 is affordable.
The wild card to all of this is the rumored pending native support of Android Apps on Chrome OS. Although this is a break in the original vision of Chrome OS, it offers a very practical outcome. A good example is Google Music. There may be times when I want to listen to music when the internet is not available. Although Intel is making progress with Android, the bulk of the software is written for ARM and unless you plan take a Blue Stack approach, one can assume a Chrome OS Android synergy would be more easily achieved on ARM.
Google would go a long way in advancing Chrome OS, the Chrome Box, and Chromebook by releasing under the it’s own brand, or collaborating with partners to release under their brand, products leveraging this technology.
It is reasonable to assume an elegant solution which supports a Pixel like user experience can be delivered to the consumer in the $500 to $600 (US) price range. I would love to see this happen at Google IO-13 but there is already a-lot on deck with the rumored Nexus 5, Nexus 7.7, Project Glass, and the anticipated Android Key Lime Pie release. Although – Google normally shows Chrome OS some love at Google IO, and now that the Pixel is in the wild; you never know.