Acer Previews Haswell Chromebook at IDFby Jarred Walton on September 11, 2013 7:38 PM EST
While they’re not for everybody (yet?), Chromebooks have become one of the most popular laptops to buy online lately – more specifically, Acer’s $200 C710-2833 Chromebook is reportedly selling very well. And it’s not hard to see why: reasonable performance (unlike the earliest Chromebooks that suffered from a lack of RAM and extremely slow Atom CPUs) and a $200 price point for a small laptop that gets okay battery life and doesn’t weigh much makes a great companion for many students. While a few other companies have tried to sell slightly upscale Chromebooks, getting the price down as low as possible is definitely a way to move product.
Given the success of their second generation Chromebook (the first having been one of the slow Atom-based models I mentioned earlier), it’s no surprise to see Acer updating their Chromebook line with new models. They haven’t disclosed the full specifications yet, but the most important tidbit is at least known: the third generation Acer Chromebooks will use Intel Haswell-based processors. Considering the second generation C710 is still getting by with a 1.1GHz Celeron 847 (32nm Sandy Bridge architecture), the jump to Haswell may be a bit of a surprise. Intel’s Navin SHenoy states, “The latest Chromebooks with Intel processors based on the Haswell micro-architecture enable sleek new designs with amazing battery life and improved performance,” though he’s talking about Haswell Chromebooks in general and battery capacity will play a major role in battery life.
For their part, Acer’s Arif Maskatia (CTO) states, “The value proposition of the Acer Chromebook line resonates with consumers, education and a growing number of businesses, as more work is done by teams that collaborate, create and connect using a wide and varied range of apps for learning, research, fun and work. The new Acer Chromebook will inspire greater innovation for developers and in turn, for our customers in numerous markets.” The overall design appears mostly unchanged from the current generation C710, though it's apparently slightly thinner and lighter (according to Engadget). Given the phrase “value proposition”, I suspect Acer will be upgrading to a Celeron family Haswell CPU, which means their choices are pretty limited.
The Celeron 2955U would be the direct replacement of the existing Celeron 847, and the update would bring improved battery life as well better performance. Intel hasn’t fully disclosed what iGPU is present in the Haswell Celerons, but Sandy Bridge Celeron and Ivy Bridge Celeron both apparently used 6 EUs, so we may see the same with Haswell models. Even if the number of EUs in the GPU stays the same, however, the clock speed for the EUs is going to increase to 1000MHz (2955U and 2980U). CPU clocks would likewise be a decent jump, going from 1.1GHz in the 847 to 1.4GHz in the 2955U. TDP on the other hand drops from 17W to 15W, and as we’ve seen elsewhere, Haswell has been tuned quite well for low power draw under light loads. Acer could potentially go with a different CPU of course (Celeron 2980U is basically the same but with a 1.6GHz maximum CPU clock, or the Pentium 3556U tops out at 1.7GHz), but we’ll likely see Acer stay with the Celeron CPUs for now.
As for the rest of the components, Acer isn’t saying anything yet. Iit's still a 1366x768 display, but at the targeted price points that’s excusable. RAM might stay at 2GB or potentially we could see it double to 4GB. Storage will probably stay at 16GB solid state as well, at least on the base model, but it’s possible Acer might upgrade to something larger. All of the specs are of course largely contingent on pricing, and with no MSRP announced we can only assume the entry level model will replace the existing C710 with other variants sporting minor upgrades as appropriate. The only thing we really know is that Acer plans to have their latest Chromebooks available in time for the holiday shopping season.
Source: Acer PR