There’s speculation that Apple is planning to introduce an iPad with a quad-core processor in order to remain at a competitive advantage with its competitors, which are looking to adopt quad-core technologies themselves.
Speculation began on article on the Microprocessor Report, a magazine related to microprocessors, and later analyzed by Tiernan Ray on Barron’s. The article speculates that Apple, which makes all its processors in-house for its iOS devices, might be working on making its next-generation processor, presumably the A6 (since the current one is known as A5), quad-core:
The other large point Gwennap makes is that the roadmap for Apple’s chips may become more complex. It’s safe to assume Apple will make the next processor, presumably the A6, as a quad core part, sometime next year, in order to compete with quad core chips from Nvidia and others.
Four cores is definitely ground-breaking in the mobile industry, and unimaginable just a few years ago. Such an advancement would make a small handheld such as the iPad essentially as powerful as desktop computers are today.
While the A6 will most likely find its way into the next iPad, the article cautions that it likely won’t be the case with the 2012 iPhone, possibly the iPhone 5, since such a powerful processor would run the risk of overheating inside the smaller iPhone case. Instead, the future iPhone would use the A5, possibly an enhanced version of it, until Apple develops a more efficient quad-core chip:
that chip will likely be too hot and too large to run in an iPhone, he surmises. That might mean Apple has to use a different chip for the 2012 version of the iPhone, perhaps a shrink of the A5 chip.
Apple’s competitors are trying to further their game with better and faster chips. Just recently, NVIDIA introduced Kal-El, a quad-core mobile processor capable of displaying incredibly realistic graphics. It’s expected for it to be all over Android tablets as soon as it becomes available.
Meanwhile, iPad 2 sales remain strong, with 4.69 million devices sold last quarter. In total, the company sold 90 million iOS devices last year and is projected to sell as many as 146 million this year. Following Apple’s traditional release timeline, a next-generation iPad isn’t expected to come out before the first quarter of next year.