iPad Hardware

iPad to Feature Quad-Core Apple A6 Processor?

Apple is poised to release iOS devices with much faster quad-core processors later this year. The first device to feature the next generation A6 processor could be the iPad 3 this spring, however there are now rumors of an iPad 4 in the works for October 2012. Regardless, the A6 is the logical next step for Apple to take in their mobile devices.

iPad 3 Apple A6 Processor

The A4 was featured in the original iPad, and upgraded to the dual-core A5 chip in the iPad 2. According to research from 9to5 Mac the latest iOS 5.1 beta source code contains evidence that Apple is indeed working on a quad-core processor. Processing core management software has been adapted in iOS 5.1 to add "/cores/core.3" according to the report, which represents a fourth processing core.

Coming Soon: Apple Could Launch $299 iPad

Apple is poised to retain its dominance of the tablet market worldwide, and one leak of information after another is streaming out of Asia to reveal glimpses of what's next. Reports of more than one iPad model on the horizon are not new, however DigiTimes research indicates there could be three tiered models coming early this year.

iPad 2 side view

The flagship model iPad 3 would be a high-end device featuring an updated screen with Retina-like resolution and top specs, including a next generation A6 mobile processor. A second tier A6-equipped iPad would feature the same insides however with a display matching the resolution of the iPad 2, which would reduce the price. Here's the kicker:

iPad 3 Screen Could Feature Sharp IGZO Technology

News of Apple's move towards IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology in the iPhone 5 display is not new, however reports have surfaced that show Apple could be using IGZO in the next generation iPad. The current iPad uses an IPS (in-plane switching) display, which provides a large viewing angle.

Sharp IGZO diagram

As seen in the diagram above from Semiconductor Portal, one advantage of an IGZO display is improved electron mobility. This means display pixels can be smaller (higher resolution) and more light passes through the IGZO display from the backlight. This reduces the brightness level needed from the backlight and saves power.

iPad 3 Redesigned Parts Already For Sale

Now that reports have surfaced of a possible February or March iPad 3 launch, Asian suppliers have started to offer iPad 3 components for sale. The latest part to spring up is a wholesale microphone flex cable ribbon, which according to photos from TVC-Mall is much different than its predecessor.

iPad 3 leaked parts wholesale

The new part, pictured above, could indicate a major redesign of the next generation iPad hardware. The site claims this microphone ribbon cable is an authentic replacement part for the iPad 3, however similar claims have had a mixed record when it comes to accuracy.

iPad 3 Display Could Feature Sharp IGZO Tech

Sharp has often been cited as one of Apple's current display suppliers, however the importance of Sharp technology to the design of the iPad 3 may have been underestimated. LG Display and Samsung have also been providing displays to Apple for its devices, but if sources at AppleInsider are correct, it's Sharp that will soon take center stage.

iPad 3 Retina display Sharp IGZO

The report revolves around groundbreaking IGZO technology that is ready for mass production and provides Apple with an alternative to the current IPS LCD display used in the iPad and iPad 2. The advantage of IPS is its wide viewing angle, but Apple is always on the lookout for lighter, more efficient components for its designs.

iPad 3 Retina Displays Have Already Shipped

If reports originating from parts suppliers are to be believed, Apple has already received one million 2048 x 1536 displays for the next generation iPad. LG Display, Samsung and Sharp are said to be working on an order of two million more display units for delivery this month.

iPad 3 retina display shipping

The iPad 3 Retina display doubles display resolution in each direction on the 9.7-inch touch screen to 264 pixels per inch (ppi). Although the iPhone 4 Retina display comes in at 326 ppi, the smartphone is normally held closer to the eyes, requiring more resolution to eliminate the appearance of pixels. With four times the number of individual pixels the iPad 3 display will require more processing and battery power, possibly leading to a slightly thicker iPad 3.

iPad 3 Could Feature Dual OLED Backlights

Apple is looking to improve display technology on its next generation iPad, and we're not just talking about a Retina display resolution. A patent filed by Apple in the first half of 2010 reveals designs for dual OLED backlights, as reported by Patently Apple. The diagram below shows a cross section of the OLED backlight layers.

iPad 3 dual OLED display backlight patent

Part of what makes this technology so impressive is its simplicity. Current LCD displays have multiple layers requiring more thickness, and as has been seen in the past on the iPad and iPhone, they can be prone to manufacturing problems. Light leaks and yellow discoloration have been reported on some defective units.

Samsung to Supply A6 Processor for iPad 3

The iPad 3 will sport a quad-core A6 processor manufactured by Samsung according to a report sourced from the Korea Times. Despite Apple and Samsung's public feud over patents and competing mobile devices, Apple will continue to rely on Samsung to deliver the next generation processor.

iPad 3 Apple A6 Processor

Industry sources claim Samsung has increased production of the Apple-designed A6 quad-core chip using advanced 28-nanometer technology at its manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas. Apple is one of Samsung's largest clients, and Apple relies on Samsung's proven track record.

Will the iPad 3 Feature 3D Gesture Controls?

Apple patents seem to be filed on a constant basis, and determining which concepts will make their way into next generation products is almost impossible. We know an iPad 3 is due for release in March 2012, but we also know that several patents relating to 3D user interfaces on mobile devices have been filed in the past two years.

Minority Report 3D gesture interface

PC Magazine reports that Apple may deploy an iPad gesture control that would operate using the front camera of the tablet. This would make it possible to operate the iPad from across the room, or by simply gesturing in space to control options on the screen.

iPad 3 Postponed Due to Retina Display Troubles?

Apple is planning to increase display resolution on the next generation iPad, however reports indicate that manufacturers Samsung and LG Display might not be ready to produce the parts in the quantities needed. Rumors of a fall 2011 iPad 3 launch were never verified, but display manufacturing challenges could be responsible for pushing things forward. Now the Wall Street Journal reports the iPad 3 is slated for a spring 2012 release.

iPad 2 side view

Suppliers indicate the iPad 3 screen will double the current resolution of 1024 x 768, making the new Retina-style screen 2048 x 1536. This puts the number of pixels per inch on the 9.7-inch display at a formidable 264. The iPhone 4 and 4S both sport smaller Retina displays with a whopping 326 pixels per inch, although they are typically held closer to the eyes than tablets.

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