Current mobile processors act as a central hub for other components but given Project Ara's modular nature, they wanted something a bit more independent. The Rockchip solution will be able to do that without the need for a bridge chip according to project lead Paul Eremenko.
Project Ara seems to be coming along smoothly. Eremenko said his team kicked off the second design spiral in early July and that Toshiba successfully produced the first revision of a UniPro network switch and bridges last week.
As the second design spiral advances, he said we can expect to see a major new MDK and new developer hardware in addition to their second developers conference later this year. Eremenko added that his team expects to be able to demo the Rockchip UniPro processor during their third design spiral and have a prototype ready by early next year.
If you aren't up to speed, Project Ara is Google's (formerly Motorola's) vision of building a fully modular smartphone. The idea is that you'd start with a base, or an endoskeleton, that has multiple slots in which modules can plug into. From here, you basically get to design your smartphone as you see fit.
For example, if battery life is your top priority, you could forgo components like a Bluetooth module or speakers in order to add a larger battery module.
The whole idea certainly sounds compelling and could totally revolutionize the smartphone industry but we're still at least a few years away from that possibility.