Google’s announcement this morning of the Chromebook Pixel 2 has sparked some interest in what’s the highest end hardware you can currently buy on a Chromebook. The body is the same but under that hood beats a different, more powerful heart and a Google Chromebook engineer has shed some light on those internals over on reddit.
redditor /u/iceblink hit the Chromebook Pixel 2 announcement thread this morning and has been answering a few questions about the internal components, as well as showing off what amounts to tech porn, with an uncovered Pixel shown off – which he also annotated.
In terms of hardware he had some interesting things to say, the Chromebook Pixel 2 continues to use the Chromium Embedded Controller that the original uses, although in the Chromebook Pixel 2 there are two, which he says :
one for the typical EC behavior like power sequencing and fan control and a separate one to handle the new USB PD protocol and the signal multiplexing necessary to make all the fancy alternate mode stuff (DP/HDMI/etc) work. You will also find the same EC software running on the chip inside all of our Type-C chargers and adapters.
He also speaks about the heat dissipation – a problem with the original Pixel which can get quite warm on the bottom. The Chromebook Pixel 2 has a different setup for the Southbridge controller now incorporated into the CPU removing that particular issue.
They are both the same mechanically and with the same thermal setup, the only difference is in the CPU, memory, and SSD.
One major difference that helps from the first Pixel is that the southbridge is now part of the same package as the CPU (for mobile since the Haswell generation) which removes a surprisingly hot component that did not have adequate cooling of its own.
One final hardware related tidbit for those looking to purchase a Pixel 2 and perform a hardware upgrade he advises that the SSD isn’t upgradeable, nor are any other components, he also addressed how you’d actually open up the Pixel 2 :
There are two rubber strips on the bottom that run the length of the device and hide 15 tiny screws. Those rubber strips are adhered but they come out easy enough and you get a few remove/insert actions before they stop sticking well.
Once the screws are out the bottom comes right off as it does not have additional glue around the edge of the bottom panel like the first Pixel did. (you needed a suction cup to get the back off of that one…)
Sadly I do not think there is anything that a user could upgrade here, the only reason to open the case would be to disable write protect so you can modify the boot flags or flash a custom BIOS. Or maybe to take a better inside picture than I did.
He even responds to a question regarding installing straight Linux and whether it’s easier on the Chromebook Pixel 2
Unfortunately the process is still largely the same since it is the same verified boot under the hood with the same security requirements.
However if you open the case (not as hard as the original Pixel!) and disable write protect you can set flags to change the behavior like making it do legacy boot by default after a 1 second timeout.
The reddit thread is still fairly active and if you have any questions, I recommend you jump on over and ask your question. Now to find the easiest way to get one into Australia.