updated 07:10 pm EST, Wed February 8, 2012
iPad 3 may parallel Galaxy Tab in faster dual core
An incidental rumor floated next to talk of a purported iPad 3 case back has raised the possibility that Apple's expected A6 chip isn't quad-core. Citing unnamed sources, The Verge claimed that it would stay dual-core but have a "significantly more powerful" graphics core. Although not mentioned, it's presumed the clock speed, architecture, or both would be upgraded with the new chip.
The long-discussed 2048x1536 display would still be there, and the lack of a February launch was given incidental though not definitive support. Like suggested before, it would be about 1mm thicker, presumably to accommodate the extra backlighting and possible larger battery.
If true, the approach would show Apple and Samsung unintentionally pursuing the same strategy of a faster dual-core chip instead of stretching to go quad-core. Samsung's only publicly detailed 2012 mobile processor, the Exynos 5250, is still dual-core but runs at a much higher 2GHz and uses the new ARM Cortex-A15 architecture. The combination of the new processor and new graphics should let it drive a 2560x1600 display quickly without necessarily lowering battery life.
Apple using a comparable chip would keep it competitive and could still see it get an advantage, since it's widely presumed to be shipping the iPad 3 in March where Samsung has officially said the Exynos 5250 by itself won't be in production until the spring. The next iPad isn't likely to be threatened by those tablets that do opt for quad-core processors like NVIDIA's Tegra 3. Early benchmark tests have shown that even the iPad 2 currently matches or outperforms the quad-core ASUS Transformer Prime; a third-generation iPad 3 may be unambiguously faster.
The graphics are likely either a PowerVR SGX543MP4, a quad-core version of what the iPad 2 uses and the exact same video as in the PlayStation Vita, or else a next-generation core like the PowerVR 6 series.