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What Sort of Performance Will the New Samsung Chromebook Deliver?

Exynos Octa ChipThe forthcoming Samsung Chromebook refresh features an eight-core processor – but will it be as impressive in action as it sounds on paper?

Surpassing the performance of the first generation Samsung Chromebook won’t be difficult. Never a speed demon to start with, and now more than a year old, the dual-core Exynos powering it has been left in the dust by newer offerings from Intel’s Haswell line.

Paired with 2GB RAM and a quad-core Mali-T604 GPU, it continues to deliver an acceptable level of performance, though some websites, in particular Gmail and Google+, are less than fantastic in use.

Second Generation Samsung Chromebook

Samsung is upping the ante with their 2nd-gen ARM-powered Chrome OS notebook in virtually all areas.

Processor

Despite being billed as an eight-core processor the Exynos Octa is actually a pair of quad-core CPUs…

Taking centre stage in the refresh is the company’s Exynos 5 Octa 5420 ‘system-on-a-chip’. This packs 8 CPU cores into a single 28nm design, and is paired with 3GB of RAM and a 6-core graphics die.

But there is a caveat: despite being billed as an eight-core processor the Exynos Octa is actually a pair of quad-core CPUs on one chip.

Four cores are based on an ARM A15 architecture handled performance-intensive activities, with less demanding tasks handled by four cores based on the slower but battery-friendly ARM A7. A combination of the eight cores can be used at once thanks to a multi-processing feature called ‘big.LITTLE’.

On paper at least, the four 1.8Ghz A15 cores should deliver a considerable performance bump, but until an Octa Chromebook appears in the wild we won’t be able to gauge precisely how big of a bump it’ll be.

Memory

Chrome OS has never had many issues chugging away 2GB of RAM, but the jump to 3GB RAM certainly won’t hurt. Modest gains resulting from a marginally faster memory clock speed should see even the most stressful of multitasking habits handled with ease.

Graphics

‘The 6-core Mali-T628 GPU claims a 50% boost over the T604…’

With the number of 3D-rich games for Chrome, hardware-accelerated web apps, and media-heavy webpages on the increase, the graphics prowess of a Chromebook is just as important as everything else.

The 6-core Mali-T628 GPU claims a 50% improvement over the T604 used in the previous model, with a further 50% performance improvement coming from the addition of an extra 2 cores.

Twice the graphics performance of the first-gen Samsung Chromebook sounds like a win-win.

Heck, it may even be enough to get Google+ to load free of lag!

  • toddh

    I’m pretty excited about this one. Sounds like a big upgrade in screen and performance.

  • Guest

    There seems to be an error. Checking on Wikipedia the Samsung Exynos Octa 5420 works with “big.LITTLE heterogeneous multi-processing (MP), which enables the use of all physical cores at the same time”

  • Muhammad Alhabash

    The specs seems too good to be true for $250 price. And based on the reviews, Intel Chromebooks perform better than the ARM ones, I’ll be waiting it anyway and I’ll be waiting Asus Chromebook as well (or there won’t be an Asus Chromebook since they haven’t announced it at CES?)

    I might end up buying the Acer model if Asus & Samsung failed to bring something creative, it’ll be a disappointment though ..

    • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

      Lenovo is going to launch three Chromebooks this summer as well. There should be a lot of choices soon for Chromebook buyers. I agree that $250-300 seems unrealistic for a device with a screen that good, but it would be awesome. $350-500 seems more like it.

    • Sebastiaan Franken

      Why not buy the new HP14? It’s 14 inch screen won me over. I already have the Samsung which I gave to my girlfriend and I’m loving the HP. It’s faster and runs more smoothly than the Samsung did, but that’s because I’m a extreme user haha

      • http://www.live-craft.com/ Jonathan Alfonso

        I would have given the HP to the lady friend then.

      • DigoriePiper

        There’s plenty of choice already for Intel based Chromebooks and all perform well in power and battery life. I really want an ARM machine for developing on with chroot debian – also nice to have a machine that’s completely passively cooled unlike intel. Waiting for this one.

  • Brian Ober

    Any word as to when to expect this new CB from Samsung?

    • http://omgubuntu.co.uk/ Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      No concrete dates, but the vague date of “spring” is most likely.

  • http://www.live-craft.com/ Jonathan Alfonso

    This makes me regret buying the older Samsung Chromebook last year. :(

    (still a nice laptop though)

    • http://omgubuntu.co.uk/ Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      Don’t feel too bad, it’s still a decent enough laptop and will remain updated for some time. Plus, despite the extra grunt, the newer model will match the 1st-gen in battery life.

      • http://www.live-craft.com/ Jonathan Alfonso

        I love the battery on mine, but I could have grabbed one of these had I waited. However, I guess that’s just how the world of tech works :)

        • jsebean

          I still love my samsung series 3 chromebook, still would like to have a new one, specifically the chromebook 11 from hp :P

          • http://www.live-craft.com/ Jonathan Alfonso

            HP Chromebook 11 = Samsung Series 3 (in performance)

            Plus, the HP Chromebook is smudgy.

          • jsebean

            I just like the design of the hp chromebook, that is all lol. If I were to get another I’d probably go for a larger screen.

    • Joe Montfort

      I don’t.

      Months in, and I’m still liking the “old” Samsung a lot. :)

  • Ross

    There’s no firm evidence Samsung are even going to bother releasing another Chromebook. All the talk was a bout a reveal at CES, but there was nothing.

    • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

      This is all the evidence, and the talk for CES was all from analysts. http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/article/2770/samsung-notebook-samsung-electronics-release-new-chromebook-next-year

      Most new Chromebooks like the three from Lenovo will probably debut at Google’s I/O conference, which makes the most sense since Google doesn’t really have a presence at CES.

    • http://omgubuntu.co.uk/ Joey-Elijah Sneddon

      I don’t recall it ever being stated that Samsung were planning a reveal at CES.

    • Sean Lumly

      The original Chromebook has sold so well, that it would be foolish for them not to consider releasing another version. Companies like making money, and the Chromebook represents a successful SKU.

  • Frederik Van Assche

    I’m most excited about the screen and the extra ram, 2GB isn’t enough for me

  • Sean Lumly

    The biggest benefit of the Exynos 5420 in the rumored new Chromebook is the fact that this SoC is a mobile phone SoC, designed to run in a power envelope of 1W to 2W, compared to the 5W to 8W that the Exynos 5250 has been known to consume. This is due to a number of factors (eg. architectural efficiency, big.LITTLE, smaller process @ 28nm, etc). This means FAR better power consumption which translates into either a smaller battery (for similar runtimes and a thinner/lighter laptop) or longer runtimes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a chromebook with this SoC that could go for 9 – 10 hours on a charge.

    The benefits in performance will come from the CPUs higher clock rate, better architecture, cooler AP (Application Processor) that will mean less thermal throttling, increased memory bandwidth, decreased required bandwidth, more ram, and larger L1 and L2 caches! This means faster processing, faster handling of memory, and less swapping. This should make using the Chromebook feel much better than the last generation.

    The Mali T628 GPU in the Exynos 5420, while it is significantly more powerful than that of the old Chromebook (around 2x), will likely play a small role in the overall system performance. It has some benefits like “Smart Composition” (a feature that lower bandwidth requirements), but the GPU cores that traditionally transform triangles and process pixels, will have little to do on the Chromebook outside of the occasional WebGL application. The web also lacks a standardized GPU-compute framework, and I suspect Chrome OS does as well. All in all I expect the GPU to largely site idle most of the time as I suspect the Mali T604 did in the original chromebook.

    I am really looking forward to a new Chromebook. I love the idea of ARM in laptops and the new Chromebook should provide a very thin/light/inexpensive alternative that has outstanding battery life and a no-nonsense OS.

  • http://vicente-de-pierola.tumblr.com/ Vicente de Piérola

    Exynos suck!

    Perfect Chromebook: Intel Haswell Chip, neat hardware, 13 inch display, and 4 GB of RAM.

  • John Scott

    The added cores is needed. But can apps and Chrome OS even use multiple cores effectively? The early tests I have seen give the duel quads only marginally improved performance over the duel core Exynos 5.
    From user experience it seems the Intel Hazwell chips are quickly becoming the favorite. I know myself I will not buy another ARM based Chromebook. My Samsung 3 reminds me too much of the Netbooks with those nasty Atom chips in them. Just barely enough power to satisfy.