Haswell to power next-gen Chromebooks, Asus-built Chromebox

Processors based on Intel's Haswell microarchitecture will power a new generation of devices running Google's Chrome OS. The news broke during today's IDF keynote, when Intel VP Doug Fisher teased systems from Acer, Asus, HP, and Toshiba. Both HP and Acer are Chrome OS veterans, but Asus and Toshiba are tackling the operating system for the first time.

Intel is no stranger to Chrome OS, of course. Atom processors were used in the first Chromebooks, and Celerons can be found inside more modern offerings (apart from the Samsung design we reviewed last year). In fact, Google's own Chromebook Pixel has a Core i5 CPU from the Ivy Bridge generation. We don't know the specifics of the chips inside the next-gen Chrome devices, but there was apparently a desire for more oomph than Bay Trail provides.

The keynote moved on before more details were revealed, and Google's blog post on the subject provides little additional insight. We do, however, know that Asus' entry will be unique. Instead of building a Chromebook, the motherboard giant has concocted a headless machine that looks similar to Intel's NUC small-form-factor system. It's a Chromebox, I guess.

In a market that's saturated with touchscreen tablets and about to be swamped with inexpensive Bay Trail devices running Windows, it's hard to see where Chromebooks will fit. Recent market share numbers from NPD provide a hint, though. According to figures quoted by Bloomberg, Chromebooks made up 20-25% of the US market for sub-$300 laptops. Bay Trail seems like a better fit for the budget market, but perhaps Haswell can dip that low if device makers don't have to pay for a Windows license.

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