If Google's Chromebook is the next big thing, Intel wants to make sure that Intel is Inside.
On Tuesday, a number of manufacturers announced plans to build low-cost netbooks around the mobile version of Intel's "Bay Trail" Atom chip, the Bay Trail-M. Lenovo's new N20p was probably the highest-profile offering, but the other hardware makers including Acer, Asus, and Toshiba also announced their own plans.
The new Bay Trail-M chip will carry the "Celeron" brand name, the brand that Intel has historically associated with low-priced, entry-level computing.
Intel also said that the several Chromebooks would be built around its low-end Core microprocessor, the Core i3. Interestingly, Intel also said that it will be the only processor vendor to support a 64-bit version of Google's Chrome OS, which Google has yet to announce.
To date, a number of Chromebooks have been built around ARM chips, including the Exynos processor that Samsung, one of the early Chromebook vendors, manufacturers for its own use in Chromebooks and smartphones. Intel executives said that twenty Chromebook designs in 2014 will be based around its chips, up from just four designs in late 2013.
Intel's strategy is to ensure if there is a computing device, it work best with Intel's processors, said Navin Shenoy, an Intel vice president and general manager for Mobile Clinet Platforms. "We will embrace multiple operating system and and we want our processors to work best with [them]," he said.
Intel executives claimed that the new Chromebooks powered by its Bay Trail-M chips will deliver up to 11 hours of battery life; the new Chromebooks with the "updated" Celeron Bay Trail chips will all include 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the company said. Shenoy said that the new Bay Trail chips will run 4 times faster than "alternative" architectures on Web apps, and three times faster on Chrome OS apps like QuickOffice.
Caesar Sangupta, a Google product director, said that at Amazon, seven of the top twenty notebooks are Chromebooks; the top six notebooks with the highest ratings by users are all Chromebooks. Thousands of schools — over 10,000 — have bought Chromebooks, up from 2,000 in September, he said.
"The momentum is solid, and gathering pace," Sangupta said. "We're very happy with that."
Google users will be able to watch Google Play movies offline in the next few weeks, through the Google Play app on Chrome OS, Sangupta said, as well as Google Docs.
Meet the new Chromebooks
Lenovo already manufactures a pair of Chromebooks: the ThinkPad 11e Chromebook as well as the ThinkPad Yoga 11e. (The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga, a ruggedized Chromebook designed for education, will run on Bay Trail," Intel said.) On Tuesday, the company announced two more.
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