Future Project Ara iteration to get a custom Rockchip chip

August 23, 2014
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If you haven't heard much lately about Project Ara, it is for a very good reason. Aside from a problem with manufacturing that has delayed shipping developer units to Google I/O winners, the team has also struck up a partnership with chip maker Rockchip for a Project Ara processor.

Project Ara has experienced a minor manufacturing setback, but it isn't the end of the world yet. Apparently, the developer boards that were supposed to be sent as prizes to the I/O 2014 challenge were plated with the wrong material. The good news is that Google expects to ship out the correct boards in about two weeks, so just a bit more patience for those lucky enough to get one.

Perhaps the bigger news for those intently watching the project is that Project Ara has partnered with Rockchip, famous (or infamous) for selling mobile systems-on-chip at budget prices, to develop an SoC just for Project Ara. Now, while good old Rockchip already has many processors in the market, Project Ara has very peculiar needs. The new SoC is said to use a UniPro interface, a protocol that lets mobile components talk to each other in a generic and standardized way. This means that the SoC can function as an application processor (AP) and just that, just a node in a network and not its hub for all the other components. This also does away with the need for a separate bridge chip, which plays more into Project Ara's goals for a completely modular smartphone.

Before you get too excited, though, this new Rockchip chip won't be coming anytime soon. Project Ara head Paul Emerenko projects that this chip will only make its way the actual hardware around the third iteration, or "Spiral", of the design. And we still have yet to see Spiral 2 and its promise of more PCB space for module developers. That is most likely to come on or before the second Ara Developer Conference scheduled later this year. No month or date announced yet.

SOURCE: +Google ATAP


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