Stock Update: Google (NASDAQ GOOG) Chromebook To Get a Boost from Nvidia’sMobile Chip

Google’s (NASDAQ GOOG) Chrome OS has attracted a great deal of attention in recent months. Chrome OS-powered laptops- Chromebooks- are often much cheaper than alternatives running Microsoft’s Windows, and yet still quite capable. Most of Microsoft’s hardware partners have embraced Google’s cloud-based operating system, while schools have emerged as a hotbed of demand. Still, Chromebook’s share of the overall PC market has remained relatively limited- just 1% in 2013.

But Chromebook could be about to take a major step forward thanks to Nvidia’s (NASDAQ NVDA) latest mobile chip: The Tegra K1 provides Chromebook with a few new tricks, and could emerge as the preferred processor for Google’s line of inexpensive laptops.

Similar to the way in which it has dominated the market for devices powered by Google’s Android, Samsung has manufactured the vast majority of Chromebooks sold to date-the South Korean tech giant builds about two out of every three Chromebooks, according to research firm Gartner.

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Samsung uses its own processor, the Exynos 5, in its Chromebook. (Samsung’s most recently released Chromebook, the aptly named Chromebook 2, ships with an eight core version of the Exynos.) For the sort of light computing tasks that generally define Google’s operating system, Samsung’s chip is more than adequate.

The Tegra K1, however, has bested the Exynos in a variety of benchmark tests. The first Tegra K1-equipped Chromebook, the Acer Chromebook 13, has received generally positive reviews, with many noting its snappy performance compared to other models. At the same time, the Chromebook 13 was found to have excellent battery life, able to stream video for hours without needing a charge.

The Tegra K1’s biggest advantage may be its graphical processing, an area where Nvidia’s chip notably excels. Chromebook, with its inability to run local apps, has not been known as a gaming machine, but better gaming performance could be necessary if Google’s platform is to truly go mainstream.

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Gaming accounts for a shockingly high percentage of the time spent on computing devices- according to Flurry Analytics, about two-thirds of the time spent on tablets is spent gaming- and as Microsoft’s recent $2.5 billion purchase of Minecraft-maker Mojang demonstrates, is definitely important to platform holders.

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