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Google updates Project Ara with custom-made processor

by Mark Tyson on 25 August 2014, 12:30

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), PC

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The team behind Google's modular smartphone Project Ara has just announced that the third iteration of Ara will be getting a new custom-made processor. Project Ara is an effort from Google's ATAP business to design and create a modular smartphone that will allow users to customise and update functions and components as they see suitable - just like you do with your PC.

The ATAP team has announced its partnership with Chinese chip maker Rockchip in creating the new SoC for Project Ara, which will replace the Texas Instruments OMAP 4660 processors used in earlier prototypes. Taking into account the modular system of Ara, the new processor will come with a native, general-purpose UniPro interface and is specifically designed to be able to function as an independent module without the need for a bridge chip.

"We view this Rockchip processor as a trailblazer for our vision of a modular architecture where the processor is a node on a network with a single, universal interface - free from also serving as the network hub for all of the mobile device's peripherals," head of Project Ara at Google ATAP, Paul Eremenko, explained.

Along with announcing the new chip, Eremenko revealed a delay in manufacturing devices for those who won units at the Google I/O earlier this year. A problem in plating the boards with an incorrect material is the cause behind the schedule hiccup. Shipments of the reworked hardware are now expected to start within the next couple of weeks. Google will "adjust prize challenge timelines accordingly" as it determines ship dates.

Rockchip's upcoming SoC is expected to be demoed in the third design spiral, the team stated, with prototypes anticipated in early 2015. With the amount of progress we've seen on Ara in the past few months we hope to see commercial versions of the device sooner rather than later, despite it still being a long way from being finished. Regardless, we hope that you enjoy watching this modular smartphone progress as much as we do.

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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In the good old days you dropped your phone and the battery cover fell off.

I'm not quite sure what would happen when you drop one of these but it would be pretty hilarious to see 10 different pieces all flying in different directions.
Seeing the publicity shot makes me wonder whether each of these modular components offered will end up with a different exterior skin and unless you want your phone to resemble a piece of cubalist artwork, you'll end up having to stick to a single manufacturer anyway.
@Cog, if the pieces are held together by earth type magnets of something like that, I don't think they will remove that easy …

but in another note, if you have allot of lego-type pieces + a case to make it look better … i think the phone will become really thick and … kind of ugly (like the first laptops were, somewhat like mobile desktops :) )
As long as I can get a nice reasonable cover for it to hold the components in and make it look pretty, i'll be happy. But I agree with the fact i'd rather my phone not looking like modern art…A blue canvas with a white stripe, I wish I could sell that for a few million…