Samsung’s Next Flagship Chromebook Could Be A Real Beast

Samsung’s next pro-level Chromebook could prove to be a real contender for the most powerful device available, based on a recently spotted series of commits to the Chromium Gerrit code review. The new gadget, dubbed “Kohaku” and associated with long-time Samsung Chrome OS contributor Jongpil Jung as well as other Samsung employees, copies all of its initial files explicitly from another device under the codename “Hatch.”

Hatch was spotted in the repository earlier in the year and doesn’t seem to be a reference board, so these will likely be two separate devices with a similar underlying architecture. The most noteworthy detail to take from that is that Hatch is summarily powered by Intel 9th Gen processors and the new Kohaku Chromebook seems to follow its lead.

What else is in the Gerrit?

Subsequent commits following the initial addition of Kohaku add in a few more details that point to a Chrome OS laptop at the top of its pecking order too. The code seems to suggest the device has a clamshell or detachable design due to references across the Gerrit that suggests it will have a “lid” and sensors to detect when that’s opened or closed. So it isn’t likely to be a tablet-only device.

Following in that same vein, the code points to the inclusion of ‘fans’ in the hardware. That’s telling because the overwhelming majority of Chromebooks are either not powerful enough to get hot enough for fans to be a requirement or are optimized to keep temperatures down. The charging used for Kohaku seems to be managed via PD standards and temperature control mechanisms for additional safety. The fans seem to be associated with keeping the overall machine cooler.

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The implication of that would seem to be that Samsung plans to utilize one of Intel’s more powerful chipsets when it launches its next-gen flagship. Intel isn’t expected to officially take the wraps off of that lineup — known only under the “Comet Lake” designation for the time being — until later this year. So there aren’t any big details that can be affirmed on that front but the details so far point to a Chromebook that has something to prove and the means to prove it.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to suit everybody’s needs, at least in its current configuration though. Other notable changes in the Chromium Gerrit also seem to indicate that HDMI support for the gadget has been removed — being switched to board-specific support for Hatch but not Kohaku. There also don’t seem to be any USB standard A-type ports planned in the final build, with the code for those being removed completely.

A new Chromebook Pro?

Samsung’s previous activity in the Chrome OS space has been somewhat erratic. Of the company’s two high-end devices, the Chromebook Plus or Chromebook Pro, only the former ever saw the release of a formal “update” model.

The Samsung Chromebook Pro has been followed with iterative changes in models with costs at around the same price range and the Chromebook Plus was, in many ways, less desirable than its predecessor. Iterations have included an LTE model and backlighting additions to the keyboard. The second Samsung Chromebook Plus also saw an update to its processor.

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Every indication seems to be that the new Kohaku is a Samsung Chromebook Pro V2 and Hatch could still turn out to be made by Samsung too and eventually launch as a new Chromebook Plus model. In fact, given the extra features found in Hatch, it may turn out that the opposite is true. In either case, these devices look to be true successors since both are operating on new chips that are two generations beyond their predecessors.

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