Google Designs Its Own Chrome Embedded Controller
Written by Michael Larabel in Google on 22 February 2013 at 08:39 PM EST. 9 Comments
Google engineers working on Chrome hardware have designed their own Embedded Controller (EC) that appears like it will end up in actual PCs and is open-source down to the firmware.

Word of the "Chrome EC" embedded controller came via a Coreboot commit that came on Friday afternoon for supporting the new chip. Stefan Reinauer, one of the original Coreboot developers that is now employed by Google, wrote "Add support for Google ChromeEC - Google ChromeEC is an EC with completely open source firmware...This patch adds support for the ChromeEC on coreboot's side. Great thanks to the ChromeEC team for this amazing work. It's another important milestone towards a free and open firmware stack on modern hardware."

Cited from that commit is a Chromium Git repository that contains the source-code to the firmware for this Google Chrome EC. The embedded controller is responsible for different background tasks of the system like battery information, keyboard initialization, temperature sensors, controlling USB charging, and other tasks.

It's rather interesting that Google's Chrome team has taken to designing their own EC and now for this GoogleEC being supported by Coreboot along with Compal, Lenovo, Quanta, and SMSC. With the mainlining of ChromeEC support, presumably this embedded controller will end up appearing in a released Chromebook? Which one? Well, seeing as this announcement comes just one day after Google announced the Chromebook Pixel and they already started pushing Pixel Linux support, it wouldn't be a big surprise if this Google EC ends up in their first high-end notebook.

Google keeping the Chrome EC open down to the firmware is also much appreciated by open-source fans and seeing that the embedded controller becomes widely-supported by the free software operating systems. With their heavy backing of Coreboot, now an open-source EC, and various other initiatives, it will be interesting to see what other areas of low-level open-source hardware support they apply their pressure to next for Chrome products.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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