Modular phone Project Ara gets new processor in update

Modular phone Project Ara gets new processor in update
Remember Project Ara? That is the modular phone project that Google is working on, that will eventually be sold to the public. Instead of upgrading to a new phone, users can buy updated modular parts to make a completely customized handset. Google has just announced a new processor for Project Ara. The mobile Rockchip SoC will function as an applications processor, without requiring a bridge chip. A prototype of the phone with the Rockchip CPU, will be available early next year.

Meanwhile, those who won Project Ara handsets in a contest, will find their modular phones arriving later than expected. Google says that these units were coated with an incorrect material. Corrected versions of the phone will be shipped in about two weeks. If you are waiting to receive a Project Ara handset that you won in a contest, be patient. They will soon arrive. The version of the phone that Google is sending contest winners, does not include the new SoC.

Google also announced on Friday that "you can expect to see a major new MDK release and new developer hardware, followed by our second Developers Conference later this year." If you're  still excited about the prospects of putting together your own phone, stay tuned.

source: Google+ via AndroidCentral

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26 Comments

1. dorianb

Posts: 617; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

So how long is this going to stay in beta a la Google Glass?

15. sgodsell

Posts: 6712; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

They said that its going to be ready next near for the public.

17. tedkord

Posts: 17085; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Innovation takes time.

2. GreekGeek

Posts: 1276; Member since: Mar 22, 2014

This'll never come into fruition.

4. modyt

Posts: 30; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

You will never grow up.

7. Finalflash

Posts: 4062; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Better to have dreamed it than not at all. At least they are trying to make amazing new things happen. Some others can't even release whats already out without taking 2-3 years.

3. JakeLee

Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 2013

Vaporware or DoA.

14. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

You're jelly green. Sucks to be you I guess.

16. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

I think as long as Google puts in the effort to educate consumers about Ara, it will be a success.

20. JakeLee

Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 2013

That's EXACTLY the problem. You can ask any marketing strategist, he will tell you that the #1 taboo in marketing is trying to educate consumers. Consumers want to be kings, not pupils.

22. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

But the entire point of Ara is to be able to customize your phone in a new way. The consumer is in control of Ara, all Google has to tell them is how they're in control. Not that difficult. I'm sure most consumers would be open to it. I've talked about it to a few people, they love the concept.

23. JakeLee

Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 2013

You cannot customize that much in first place. An SoC usually features CPU, RAM, DSP, ISP, and modem. You cannot change anything from above individually. It's the same with the image sensor. It's so tightly coupled with the ISP that separating them from each other is almost impossible. The same with the antenna. How shall they calibrate the RF with external antennas in various forms? The screen and the battery are pretty much the only thing left to be customized. However, they would all require specific drivers. What's the sense in this? It's not the proper way to innovate, but much of wasted resources.

24. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Well obviously you wouldn't be able to take apart the SoC, but you could probably swap the SoC as a whole. And Google has already talked about multiple camera sensor modules, so I guess they found a way around it being "almost impossible." I don't know what you mean by the antenna. It would act just like an antenna on any other mobile device. Care to elaborate a little? So that leaves the SoC/RAM, display, camera, battery, and whatever accessories that can fill the remaining slots up to the consumers to choose. All compatibility problems should be solved with drivers. If PCs can do it, why not phones? That's another point, anyone who enjoys building their own computers would LOVE this. It's practically an instant consumer base. Ara is a great concept, but it'll have some flaws in the first generation or two. That's what happens when you create a new type of device. As long as they keep up the development and advertise it right, it'll be a success.

26. JakeLee

Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 2013

FHD in beyer format is over 3MB in size. Multiply this with 30fps, you have roughly 100MB/s that has to be pushed from the the image sensor to the ISP while previewing. Transferring this amount of data through an *external* connector? It will suck the battery to no end IN ADDITION to generating massive heat that will cause lots of noises. It's even worse for the screen : FHD in RGB is over 6MB in size. multiply this with 60fps. 360MB/s. Good luck. Even a slight to moderate change in the chassis require the RF being re-calibrated. RF is such a b1tch. How will Ara deal with this? With a f*cking big, bulky antenna module. All in all, this project Ara is just a f*cking joke initiated by a clueless moron.

18. tedkord

Posts: 17085; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

True innovation scares the hell out of you.

5. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Good to see some progress on this. Much as "rovers" became popular in many robotics classes, I can easily see "Ara phones" becoming popular as well.

6. realjjj

Posts: 375; Member since: Jan 28, 2014

People seem to not understand this news at all. It's not a new processor, the SoC is just in a module ,you can use anything that will be available and it wouldn't be difficult to make a module with any mobile SoC..What they do here is that they just add the inteface on the chip and eliminate the need for an extra chip,saving space and cost. It is an important move for a chipmaker to invest in a chip like this before Ara is even retailing and is most likely Intel's doing (they have that colaboration with Rockchip).If it is Intel's doing then the chip would likely be Atom based.

12. vincelongman

Posts: 5606; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Also IMO Ara will reduce fragmentation (IF it gets popular, I hope it does, but it might not) People wont have to wait for OEMs/Carriers to push updates, since the updates will be straight from Google Also since it will make upgrading cheaper, people will be able upgrade sooner, so it could reduce the number of older parts

8. Shiddharatha

Posts: 7; Member since: Jul 19, 2014

It will give us freedom from hunting for other companies flag ship phones (android for obvious ) as I may insert any killer feature of flag ship phone in my Ara old phone

9. Iodine

Posts: 1470; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Well it will be cheap and customizable for sure. But it's also shaping fragmented, literally, and in some ways it doesn't stand a chance against integrated phones. Take the thickness, you can't change it unless you buy a new model, you can't increase the battery size by going thicker as well, because every "module" has its own exact dimensions. You will get a new thinner display module, that will free up space in an integrated phone for a bigger battery, but you will throw that out with the same sized module as previous older display. Take the battery life, you will get some space on that phone, but nowhere near the battery capacity in an integrated phone, as you only have some small battery packs, encased in the module, with battery circuitry that has to be put in twice for both of batteries and all of that put into some magnetic mechanism. That wastes space like hell. We already seen how simply adding a removability reduces battery size, and this is like dividing battery into two and adding all required things to make it function independently. So I expect a really, really poor battery capacity, even for the best "module", because it's fragmented. We will get different parts, different boards with no unniverasal compatibility. Like all new SoC will come out, and how will you support that with a slow few year old board ? You will replace it, and there could be a new interface and all your modules will not fit in. You want a great battery life, you will buy a thicker ara motherboard to support thicker battery packs, but it will not be compatible with your older parts. You want a bigger phone, so you need to buy compatible battery packs and so on and so on and we are suddenly in the PC industry where you are making your own PC from an older one by exchanging parts to save some money. And that is a small niche and most of people do that, only when something breaks in their PC. So we got a mess like in the PC industry, thousands of parts, thousands of motherboards, different interconnects of them and far worse in all ways than an heavily integrated computer. Only positive thing are some money savings, but android is already on the rock bottom and throwing out even the last few cents that it's making out of the window and force your OEM's to red numbers (with only purpose of profiting google and sell as many devices for free and make money on ads) is a bad idea. And then, there is publicity and media coverage... Like with all of theyr's "X" projects that never materialise.

10. dushyant

Posts: 94; Member since: Mar 14, 2011

Holy fck did you type that all. This space down here is for comments, you comment is twice as long as many articles on PA.

11. vincelongman

Posts: 5606; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Agreed with on the battery and the device's thickness, not sure how Google are going to overcome those issues But I dont think Project Ara will cause any more fragmentation than there already is There's already plenty of different Androids using different parts IMO Ara will reduce fragmentation (IF it gets popular), especially with software People wont have to wait for OEMs/Carriers to push updates, more people will be able to get them straight from Google Also since it will make upgrading cheaper, people will be able upgrade sooner, so it could reduce the number of older parts Also self built desktop PC industry isnt a mess All the connectors are standardised, e.g. SATA, M.2, PCIe, DRR3/4 And the same key parts are the same, e.g. CPU is Intel/AMD, mobo has Intel/AMD chipsets, GPU is Intel(iGPU)/AMD/Nvidia The main reason most people dont build their own PCs is because most people want portable laptops Which is why in your typical retail store there's ~30+ laptops and only ~10 desktop (half of which are iMacs and the other half are AIO iMac clones) Also most people dont even know that you can build a desktop PC Or they dont know that its quite easy (IMO it is basically adult lego) and saves money

13. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

I actually read that big wall of text (ever heard of paragraphs?). There won't be fragmentation. That's part of this "project". Modules will have to adhere to a standard of compatibility. Both physically and software/firmware. All of these incompatibilities and fragmentations you're dreaming up won't happen because Google won't allow it. I'm not saying there won't be difficulties and hurdles. In fact, I have my doubts that it'll become commercially viable and sustainable (I hope it does). See how I separate my thoughts into smaller chunks of text each time I change subjects? These are called paragraphs. They make things easier to read and absorb. I suggest that you try them sometime.

19. loyd112

Posts: 13; Member since: Aug 23, 2014

you act like you've been there and you were telling the developers it's impossible but they woudn't listen to you FIRST: this is still not even prototype that's just the alpha of an alpha SECOND:in terms of battery in google's i/o last month they said it's challenging but they're working on a battery that's 3 times better than nowaday's phone battery so you could either pick it or buy a couple of normal batteries to hotswap without turning your off THIRD: also in google i/o they announced that they will decrease the size of the modules allowing more space for more modularity (from 30% to 75% modularity). FOURTH:it's not just about saving money....the only difference beween a pc and your phone is that on a phone you have to care about both design and specs.... a modular smartphone would allow alot more customization so you can make your phone look the way you want it to with all the colours and pictures you can think off with the custom made 3d printer they're working on. most phones have pros and cons some choose that phone for it's camera, this phone for it's performance...and that other phone for it's design ....if this project succeeded it will redefine the future of phones as said: "why choose a phone for it's camera when you can choose a camera for your phone?" (having said that it should drastically decrease cost for a phone) i have more points to discuss buuut i think i've written enough( all of the above facts are true i wouldn't lie about something because i want it to happen)

21. JakeLee

Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 2013

First : For how long did it have been in work? For an eternity. There are difficulties which are understandable, but hardly solvable. Thus, alpha forever or DoA due to the "difficulties". Fourth : Phone =\= PC. That phones these days have computing powers comparable to those of PCs doesn't make them replace PCs. Actually, it's the only thing they have in common. Anything else is different. Second and Third : Your arguments are based on Google's announcements, and Google announced TONS of LIES and BSs.

25. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

You know as well as we do, If they launch this forward thinking equipment, many others will fall by roadside along way, even giants will fall that do not move forward. Its inevitable. You can try an crap on it, but I think Google an their engineers are a little more in tune with wtf is going in the world then yourself and you're desire for it to fail. Gday.

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