Feature Article

February 05, 2013

Netflix to Support ARM-Based Chromebooks Some Time in Near Future

Samsung Chromebook users will likely be happy to hear that the budget laptop will be able to stream Netflix content in the near future. Unfortunately, Netflix only stated that it is currently collaborating with Google on a solution for the ARM-based Chromebook, leaving any details regarding time frame out for now.

Web apps typically work without issue on the Chromebook, despite the fact that it runs an ARM processor rather than an x86 processor, like older machines running Google's Chrome OS. It stands to reason that this would be the case, though, as most websites work fine on smartphones and tablets as well, which largely run on ARM processors.

But Netflix decided to take a different approach in bringing its video streaming service to the Chrome OS, relying on platform-specific hardware.

To accomplish this, the Netflix team is using a Google technology called Native Client (NaCl), which enables developers to translate software based on C or C++ into a unique form that allows it to run like native code on an operating system – while letting it download safely over the Web.

Initially, NaCl only worked on x86 chips, but Google just finished updating it to allow developers to write NaCl apps for ARM systems as well. Right now that means that developers will have to build a separate NaCl file for ARM and x86 processors, but Google plans to release Portable Native Client (PNaCl) later this year that will allow one file to work on x86 and ARM machines.

As such, it's difficult to say if Netflix will begin porting its service over to the Chrome OS using NaCl or if the company plans to wait for the release of PNaCl. Either way, Netflix will likely appear on the Samsung Chromebook within a year's time.

Netflix recently posted its financial results for the final quarter of 2012, reporting both $8 million in net income and an increase in subscribers.

Edited by Braden Becker

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