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Why AMD is making Chromebook chips, and how it’s beating Intel at the entry-level

Yesterday, AMD made big waves in the Chromebook space by announcing its first processors for Google’s web-based operating system. The longtime chipmaker considers Chrome OS a growing market, and claims better performance than Intel at the entry-level.

Since 2011, Chromebooks have been powered by either Intel or ARM processors. The former dominates with Celeron and Pentium, as well as the higher-end i3, i5, and i7 chips on more premium devices, like the Google Pixelbook. Meanwhile, ARM has been represented by Samsung Exynos in the early days, but more interestingly the OP1 chipset certified and optimized by Google.

In an interview with AnandTech, AMD revealed that it is entering the space because it considers Chromebooks “an underserved but growing market.” The latter refers to both 8% compound annual growth and the rising average selling price of Chrome OS devices as more premium ones are released that run Android apps and support Linux.

AMD announced two chips yesterday for Chromebooks. This 7th Generation A6-9220C has a dual-core CPU with a base clock speed of 1.8GHz and “Max Boost” of 2.7GHz, as well as Radeon R5 Graphics. The A4-9120C has its dual-core CPUs clocked to a base speed of 1.6GHz with Max Boost to 2.4GHz and Radeon R4 Graphics.

On the performance front, AMD claims that the A6 beats the Intel Celeron N3350 and Pentium N420 found on many of today’s entry-level Chromebooks.

  • Up to 23% faster in web browsing (Speedometer 2.0)
  • Up to 13% faster in web applications (WebXPRT 3)
  • Up to 2.5x faster in email (PCMark for Android, Writing sub-test)
  • Up to 62% higher productivity (PCMark for Android, Work test)
  • Up to 33% faster in photo editing (PCMark for Android, Photo Editing sub-test)
  • Up to 34% faster in web gaming (Bullet Force on WebGL)

Meanwhile, both the Acer and HP models tout 10 hours of battery life and support H.265 4K decode, H264 1080p60 encode OpenCL 2.0, OpenGL 4.4, and Microsoft DirectX 12.


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