Google reportedly cans plans to make "gaming" Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs

Originally published at: Google reportedly cans plans to make "gaming" Chromebooks with Nvidia GPUs | Boing Boing


I’m curious as to how this one went down the path of an Intel/Nvidia rather than the AMD integrated that has been more or less standard in consoles for 2 generations now; and more recently been seeing no little success in mobile.

Discrete Nvidia absolutely punches harder; but you need to get into comparatively thirsty and expensive territory for a discrete GPU to become decisively better than a competent integrated one; and the low end of discrete GPUs has always been a somewhat sad place where yes, that MX450 can drag frame rates from ‘unplayable’ to ‘north of 30’; but at the cost of considerably more complex board layout, modifications to the cooling system, a TDP not that much lower than that of the CPU, and a suitable tithe to Nvidia.

Was this just a low-commitment project, with engineering costs of much greater concern than eventual unit costs; and ChromeOS low level and bootloader support has historically been better on Intel so just slapping a discrete GPU onto an already-supported Intel platform was vastly less engineering effort than getting something from AMD(especially since it’s only very recently that integrated-gaming oriented parts that aren’t semi-custom have become available)?

Was this some sort of weird halo product/for internal consumption like the Chromebook Pixel; with price a secondary concern?

I’m guessing it’s because Linux gaming platforms are starting to take off (Valve’s handheld and it’s many challengers) and Google saw the writing on the wall


If that’s the case I wonder if the writing on the wall is for the discrete Nvidia(since AMD integrated seems to have taken a pretty decisive price and power position vs. Intel + discrete) if your requirements are reasonably modest; or if this is linked to some doomed tendril of the Stadia environment for which the apparent success of locally executed Proton on quite accessibly cheap endpoints is (yet another) nail in the coffin.

It seems a trifle curious if the success of Valve and friends would make Google give up; since contemporary ChromeOS systems do containers and VMs just fine; and so could support having a ‘gaming’ environment slapped on top with a fairly modest amount of integration work and no deep surgery(and taking advantage of the compatibility work that Valve has done and/or driven; likely a much richer source than whatever Google had); and Valve and Google have no obvious differences of opinion over Chromebooks being somewhat more useful for buying stuff on steam.

It seems a lot less curious if GPU-focused APUs moving from being a ‘semi-custom, you have to care’ to being a standard SKU from AMD is just marking the end of interest in a low end discrete Nvidia design.

Say what you will about Chromebooks, but they make fantastic little low-spec/low-cost gaming and productivity machines once they’ve been stripped of ChromeOS and an appropriate Linux distribution is installed. I adore the ones I have that are currently running Linux Mint, mostly for playing old DOS and Windows games and working with Libreoffice. They make pretty great software defined radios, too, once armed with a dongle.

But yeah, Google continues on its tradition of unceremoniously bailing on its projects. Never, ever trust Google to follow though on anything.


I guess they were aiming for the type of PC gamer who isn’t interested in hardware specs, but also hasn’t heard of consoles or phones. Or, you know, Windows PCs. That the games are made for.

This is obviously very silly, but an interesting question is whether something like the Steam Deck is really any different. Is there such a thing as a middle ground between the Nintendo and PC approaches, or are they just fundamental opposites? PC gamers already buy 4-figure graphics cards to play games with 9-figure budgets, while others are happy playing Candy Crush on an iPhone 5; I don’t see any sign of those worlds converging in the next few decades.

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Personally, I love my Steam Deck. It really does hit the sweet spot as as far as having a great console like interface, while allowing me to play PC games. It does work best with things that are using a controller, and it doesn’t run everything (esp multiplayer stuff with anti-cheat.

But it means that I no longer have to buy a separate copy of a game on the Switch if I want to play handheld.

It sounds though that what Google was trying to do was more on the lines of just allowing PC games to run a linux laptop, probably using Proton. Which really doesn’t sound that much different than what you can do today with the tool set that Apple released for the Mac to allow it to emulate windows for games. So I doubt that the experience would be that much different from launching a Windows game and playing it

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The difference is, Mac users already spent good money for fast hardware with no games, so anything that runs on their devices is a bonus. If you paid extra for a budget computer, just to run games, then every game that doesn’t run will have you kneeling in a rainstorm screaming theatrically at the sky.

The Steam Deck makes sense if you consider that Valve is saying “we’ll make a Switch, but with our library of games and our better developer relations”. Still, everyone knows certain types of game won’t support it, especially as time goes on.

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My assumption is that Google would avoid that completely by not allowing you to just install anything, it would all still be through the Google Play Store and only games that works would be available through it and Google would get their cut

Note, I’m not saying this would be successful, but I don’t think it would automatically be a problem. It’s certainly a better idea for the next 5-10 years then Stadia would have been

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