Google plans to launch its modular smartphone code-named Project Ara in 2015. Eventually what Google hopes to sell is just the skeleton of a phone designed to run Android software. Customers will be able to choose their own screen, processor, camera, and other hardware by picking modules.

Early prototypes have been powered by Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 processors, but Google has already announced it’s also working with Rockchip on chip modules for Project Ara.

Now the team says it’s working with chip makers Marvell and NVIDIA too.

project ara_01

Marvell is working on a module that will let customers use a PXA1928 processor, while NVIDIA is developing a Tegra K1 processor module.

A modular smartphone will likely be a bit thicker and heavier than many top tier phones on the market today. But it will also be more versatile. Not only can you design the phone you want by deciding exactly what battery, camera, or other options to choose, but you can even hot swap many components. That means you could replace a camera module, for instance, with a microscope or other a credit card processing module without rebooting your device.

Of course, the whole project will only be as good as the third-party modules created for Project Ara phones, which is why it’s exciting to know that at least three difference chip makers already plan to support the platform.

Google’s been showing off working prototypes of Project Ara devices recently, but the next-gen prototypes are expected soon. The Spiral 2 prototypes with custom shells will make their debut at a develop conference in January, while Spiral 3 will be unveiled in the spring of 2015.


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10 replies on “Google Project Ara: Marvell, NVIDIA developing CPU modules”

  1. having different levels of components is what will make this a success…need a basic phone? build it. want a high end media device…build it. the limits will only be set by the module makers…i can already see the in-store display at the local electronics emporium…

  2. I don’t think there will be any limit to which os this runs or how big a screen there is… how can Google control something like that?

  3. The current NVidia K experiment seems like a failure. People complaining about so many things. I like being able to swap parts though. Seems smart. Buy why are all these tablets limited to 2Gb of memory? Is there an address bus limitation? Seems like 4GB and the multiple cores would make them much more competitive.

    1. Qualcomm has always been so proprietary though… doesn’t seem likely.

    2. Qualcomm dominans in smartphones is today similar as Intel in pc.
      The world needs more competitors to both Intel,Qualcomm and MediaTek.

  4. Don’t forget that external memory card module, Goog ol’ kid. 😉
    (As if)

  5. I still can’t make up my mind if this is either a brilliant project or a dumb idea.
    Time will tell.

    1. Have you thought on that in todays smartphones, only some few big component making brands is used?
      With modular smartphones (Google Project Ara is not the only concept!) it will be easier for many more component makers to make their big market in smartphone business.

      And for new component concepts modular phones will also be easier to find it´s market.

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