Reports that the iPad 3 will sport a new A6 chip, sans the quad core. Does this dash hopes that the iPhone 5 will sport a quad core A6 chip?
If you’ve been reading iPad 3 rumors lately, then you know that the media is aggressively rolling out form factor sightings, release date rumors, and proclamations about what it will have and what it will not have. While many are currently pouring over photos of what purport to be new iPad 3 backs, another report is indicating that the rumored quad core chip won’t make it onto the iPad 3.
The Verge reports: “the A6 CPU the iPad 3 is likely to sport will include a significantly more powerful GPU — no big surprise there. What is surprising, however, is that our sources say that the A6 will not be a quad-core chip, but will remain dual-core.” The Verge has successfully broken stories in the past, and so their information is most definitely worth a second look and serious consideration. If what they are telling us about the iPad 3′s chip is true, then it has major implications for the iPhone 5‘s processor as well.
Last year’s release of the iPad 2 served as the launching point for the A5 chip, which of course eventually found its way into the late-released iPhone 4S. Following this pattern, it would seem that Cupertino is content with using its typically Spring-released iPad to deploy new processors, most likely because the larger-framed iPad has diminished heat and space issues than the iPhone. In this way, it gives Apple developers a chance to hone their iPhone designs on the heels of a new chip by seeing how it performs in real life on the iPad.
This, combined with the fact that, from a production standpoint, it would make little sense to produce both dual- and quad-core A6 processors simultaneously, tells me that if the new A6 is deployed on the iPad 3, that will be the same chip we’ll see in the iPhone 5. Particularly since the new iPad would seem to be heavily predicated on a new display, HD, the possibility of LTE, and other processor-sucking technologies, if Apple doesn’t think the iPad 3 needs quad core, then it won’t debut on the iPhone 5, either.
Quad Core A6 Chip: The Competing Rumors
Now that we’ve mapped out the “if-then” realities of how the iPad 3′s chip will dictate what we see on the iPhone 5, it’s worth noting that this new report of no quad core A6 chip on the iPad 3 are a 180 degree about face from what we were hearing just about a week ago. There were a litany of reports claiming the exact opposite, with the requisite blurry photos to prove it. BGR reported on February 1st, by way of some cryptic screen shots, “confirmation of which processor Apple will be using in the iPad 3: an A6 processor with model number S5L8945X. For reference, the Apple A4 model was S5L8930X and the A5 is S5L8940X. The new processor will also apparently be a quad-core model, making the upcoming iPad 3 the fastest iOS device ever, we have been told.” It was also reported on ZDNet and eWeek among others.
That report also points to “a single iPad available in two versions — one with Wi-Fi only and one with Wi-Fi and embedded GSM/CDMA/LTE for all carriers,” substantiating the appearance of quad core technology as the powerhouse for handling LTE and the rumored 2048 x 1536 Retina Display.
So, what should we take away from these conflicting reports?
Well, aside from the fact that the iPad 3 news breakers obviously have no definitive proof either way of what Apple will be rolling out for the A6, I think it is safe to say that we will see an A6 on the iPad 3 — Apple will not withhold it until the iPhone 5. Charles reported on trial production of the A6 processor back on August 14th, suggesting that it has been in the works for some time now. Some even believe that Apple had an audacious plan to utilize the A6 on the failed 2011 iPhone 5, but some sort of production glitch led to delaying the iPhone 5, as we reported back on November 9th.
In the end, we might simply be splitting hairs over quad core or no quad core, as Apple has proven with its previous processors that they often can achieve optimal results with different configurations and processor speeds. Whatever Cupertino chooses to power the iPad 3 and iPhone 5, history tells us that it will be fast.
By Michael Nace
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