Intel normally doesn’t have much dedicated hardware for Chromebooks at CES, but this year it announced some intriguing tidbits. First, the company revealed that Chromebooks are coming with Intel Evo branding, its new name for refined Project Athena machines. Those will also be the first Chromebooks to include Thunderbolt support, allowing them to support faster external hard drives and other accessories. That’s one feature that will go a long way towards making Chromebooks feel like fully-featured PCs, instead of dedicated web browsers.
Aside from the premium Evo hardware, Intel says the first Chromebooks powered by its 11th gen CPUs should arrive in the first quarter. You can expect around 28 percent faster web performance, and 2.5x speedier multitasking, compared to the fastest available Chromebooks today.
Update 10:30pm: A previous version of this story stated that Intel Evo Chromebooks will also include the Intel’s visual sensing technology, codenamed “Clover Falls.” That tech is actually going to appear first in the Dell Latitude 9420, an upcoming Evo vPro design. It’ll be an option for Evo Chromebooks, but not a requirement.
Quietly announced last month, Clover Falls is a low-power companion AI chip that can do things like automatically lock your computer when you walk away, or dim your screen if you look down at your phone. Those sorts of features could help save battery life, as well as give you better security if you’re handling sensitive data. During a brief web demo with an Intel rep, it appeared to work smoothly — the visual sensing chip took only around a second to lock a PC after they left their chair.