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Acer To Launch World’s First Mediatek Powered Chromebook

MediaTek tileAcer is to launch the first Chromebook to be powered by a Mediatek chip.

Yes, finally.

The news, which doesn’t exactly catch us by surprise thanks to a slew of Mediatek-related activity in the Chromium codebase, comes by way of WinFuture.de’s Roland Quandt. 

Quandt’s sources suggest the device will be known as the Acer Chromebook R13 and will have the following hardware specs:

  • 13-inch FHD Touch display
  • Mediatek MT8173 SoC
  • 4GB RAM
  • 16/32GB SSD

The Mediatek MT8173 is a capable system-on-a-chip, but not the fastest or most up-to-date SoC on the market. It should handle Chrome OS (and Android apps) without too much sweat thanks to its big.LITTLE quad-core architecture. It combines two performant Cortex A72 cores running at 2GHz with two energy-efficient Cortex A53 cores running at 1.6GHz.

The “R” in the model title also implies that this device will be convertible, like the (hugely popular) Acer Chromebook R11. 

Based on other sources (including a prototype Chromebook made and promoted by Mediatek themselves) the Acer R13 is likely to offer USB Type-C for charging and connecting compatible peripherals, as well as a USB 3.0 port and an SD Card reader.

Quandt adds that the device will be available in one colour only (silver) and will cost from €399. This price point would pit it against some (arguably) better Chromebooks in terms of specs.

The Intel-based Acer Chromebook 14 retails at €100 less, with most store offering it at €299.

Acer has yet to announce the device, but Mediatek has been trying hard to get into the Chromebook market – no surprise given it’s still growing at a clip.

Acer is yet to respond to our request for comment. 

  • sounds intriguing! although I’m still not sure about a 13″ convertible…wonder how much it will weigh.

  • Dracono

    Being it is a Chromebook, unless JavaScript Benchmark score’s are fast (very unlikely) I could care less.

  • BreadFish64

    That is… exciting?

  • A convertible 13-incher is what I was looking for when I was on the market. But at that price, I wouldn’t consider it, really. Not at all unhappy with my Black R11, I must say.

  • But…. why?

  • Tomfoolery

    MediaTek has a history of not publishing its source code, which I believe is a violation of Linux’s GPL License. Could this be different?

    • Waethorn

      Is or isn’t it a requirement to publish the source code in the device tree for Chromium OS?

      • Tomfoolery

        I’ve got no idea, but that sounds promising

  • boomboom

    the acer r14 may be cheaper but it doesn’t have a touchscreen

    • Waethorn

      Huh? Have you been paying attention? “R” means rotatable, meaning it converts into a tablet. That means it has a touchscreen. No Acer systems with an R designation were ever not convertible tablet hybrids.

  • m_shark

    400 euros, are you kidding?

  • steveb944

    Why would anyone do this? They’re bad enough on Android.

    • MAS Googler

      Since chromeOS will be running Android apps, these arm processors should help with battery life and power consumption.

  • r4in

    I thought the main point of ARM Chromebooks would be price. I doubt performance will be near Intel levels.

    • MAS Googler

      Battery and power consumption, plus Android coming to chrome OS, this should help those factors

  • So … how does it perform in comparison with ARM, Tegra and Celerons? I love these announcement, but some kind of benchmarks and/or speed predictions would be nice(r).

    • This MediaTek SoC uses an ARM chip

      • Ah thanks for clarifying! Aka … horrible? ;) or does quad core, double chip, etc. means it could be faster or more effective than Intel Celeron 2955U Haswell for example?

        • I wouldn’t know. I’m a fan of the ARM chips tbh. It’s a similar chip that goes in a lot of tablets. We won’t know how well it runs chromeos until we get th play with the device.

          You can’t compare core/clock speed with intel because they are different architectures.

          A 1.2ghz arm chip isn’t the same as a 1.2ghz intel chip

          • Waethorn

            What happens when you have a 1.6GHz 8-core ARM chip vs. a 1.8GHz 2-core Braswell?

          • Regardless on the type of chip, when comparing two that have a different number of cores, it only fair to compare with single threaded apps (which use only 1 core) since comparing multi threaded will have a clear winner. And when comparing speed with single threaded apps, you usually look at the number of Ghz. But like I pointed out before, those numbers mean nothing when comparing 2 different architectures.

            I’m not saying you can’t go manually test them and see which one is faster. I’m just saying you can’t look at the clock speed and make an assumption (unless you understand the difference between arm/intel)

          • Waethorn

            True, but don’t forget that Chrome sets up tabs as individual processes, which are threaded. So multiple cores can help over lesser cores when you have many tabs open.

            Yeah, GHz don’t tell you everything because of IPC, and even then, ARM is RISC and x86 is CISC, so even IPC isn’t accurate. IPC is only accurate between arches that use the same instruction set. Even then, AMD x86 chips can process certain commands and workloads faster than Intel’s own x86.

            I totally agree with you though: you can’t look at numbers. You have to test real software that’s been ported to each arch because the ultimate speed test is in averaging out scores for different workloads with the assumption that the dev has properly optimized for each platform.

          • 8 cores would definitely help with lots of tabs (assuming you’ve also got the ram to support it)

        • Waethorn

          Haswell will be faster than any ARM, Bay Trail, or Braswell processor. Bay Trail might be faster than most ARM SoC’s for basic compute, but some GPU’s (Tegra in particular) kills Intel HD Graphics. It’s just pretty much balances out for the most part.

          Haswell has a much higher TDP though, so expect larger batteries and thus battery footprints in machines, meaning larger, heavier machines, or shorter battery life. Also, Haswell is more expensive. Ditto for Broadwell and Skylake.

          ARM gives you best battery and cheap designs. Intel gives you better performance – if you’re willing to pay for it.

          ARM vs. Intel isn’t going to make a huge difference for standard Chromebook stuff, but Android apps might start showing the dividing line between them. If Android on Chrome OS starts taking off, we could see devs start to target higher-end Intel processors or x86-specific instructions (like in Crossover), so it’s hard to tell what is the “best” option at this time. At least Chromebooks are cheap, and because they’re virtually maintenance-free, you could probably find someone to take your old off your hands when you upgrade.

  • Christian Büte

    What’s the worst saying for your enemies? “I wish your iPhone has Mediatek chips.”
    Well…nope. Not even my enemies deserve Mediatek hardware, nobody does. :'((

    • Mi Pen

      Mobile chips are getting faster and faster and can run Chrome OS fine. If its fast it should sip electricity unlike an Intel offering. The reason why Acer have got involved, is so they can produce a model, that should in theory, be cheaper to make and last all day with heavy reasonable use on a single charge.

      • Christian Büte

        Cheap is good, when it brings quality, too. It’s not impossible, for sure. But considering that we had more devices with MTK chipset in the family and how bad was the experience, I can’t trust that company. I even had to bring back into life some friend’s device. Acer has a name in the PC manufacturing business, so I wonder how could they choose MTK chipset instead of something else. I’m pretty sure there are other chip makers out there that could meet the requirements of being cheap and good.

  • Waethorn

    Not bad, but I’m looking forward to Crossover on Chromebooks via the Android app support, and that only runs on Intel.

  • juanjeremy2012

    the last thing the world need iis an even lower peroformaing chromeboook

    • Andrew Gryaznov

      MT8173 should be faster than all Intel chromebooks out there (except i3 – i7 based like Pixel), by about 2x. It may actually be one of the fastest chromebooks on market. It may even beat i3 and perform similarly to i5 Pixel.

      • juanjeremy2012

        Quit something the jenkum.arm doesn’t even come close to core I.

        • Andrew Gryaznov

          iPhone 6s gives 16000+ octane score. And you remember it is ARM, right? Latest i3 chromebooks have about 20000 and you’re probably not owning a latest $600 chromebook.. My Haier gives almost 9000 and MT cpu is expected to be twice as fast. Do you feel it? ;) Also consider that ARM is overall more efficient in web apps, like requiring less ram for jit cache.

  • juanjeremy2012

    Let me see if I get this straight they want$100 more for a lower performing cpu.didn’t they already trey that crap with k1 and it failed

    • Andrew Gryaznov

      It may come a surprise for you, but an old RK3288 haier beats your new shiny Intel based Acer Chromebook 14 in cpu performance

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