Google (GOOGL), NVIDIA (NVDA), Marvell (MRVL): Project Ara Gets Tegra K1, PXA1928

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) has revealed that it has been working with NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL) to use the Tegra K1 and PXA1928 applications processors (AP) for its Project Ara.

Project Ara is an ambitious project which hopes to develop a system which will enable the making of a modular smartphone. This means a user can, for example, choose to upgrade any smartphone’s components like its applications processor or display on the fly without replacing the whole smartphone. An applications processor is a module that will incorporate the main processor, the graphics processor, the random access memory, cellular module and other core components of a smartphone’s system.

Project Ara is being developed inside ATAP, Google’s other skunkworks shop which shouldn’t be confused with the Google X labs. ATAP, according to reports, employ people who previously worked for DARPA.

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Paul Ermenko, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s project head for Project Ara, shared that apart from the new APs being developed, his team have received from Quanta the first three demo units of the Spiral 2 board, the second version of what will become the backbone of this project’s modular smartphone.

NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA)’s Tegra K1 chip is of the same family as the current chips in Nexus 9 tablets. Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL)’s PXA1928 is a quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex 53 chip.

Because of the decidedly different APs being developed by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) including a Rockchip AP, the NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) Tegra K1 AP and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL) PXA1928 AP, it appears that Project Ara may debut with three reference designs initially. Reference designs are as their name suggests, designs that the originator of the project intends manufacturers to base their final products from.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is expected to demonstrate working prototypes or at least the APs from NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL) at the next developers conferences for the project on January 14 and January 21 in Mountain View and Singapore respectively.

By the end of the third quarter, Andreas Halvorsen’s Viking Global, Cliff Asness’ AQR Capital Management and David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital reported shares of 923,500, about 4.03 million, and about 26.38 million in Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL), respectively.