Google's modular phone gets cheaper thanks to a new processor

Project Ara prototype

One of the biggest challenges behind Google's modular Project Ara phone platform has been getting processors to play nicely with the technology. How do you let someone swap out the very heart of their device as easily as they would a memory card? By creating a CPU for that very purpose, that's how. Rockchip has started work on a system-on-chip with modular tech built-in; your phone won't need any bridge chips or other special tricks to let you switch processors on a whim. You won't see the hardware in action until a Rockchip-based Ara prototype arrives in early 2015. However, the plans show that Google's vision of a completely upgradable handset is both feasible and potentially inexpensive. Don't be surprised if some of the earliest Ara phones (or rather, their parts) easily fit within your budget.