updated 01:15 pm EST, Sun February 19, 2012
iPad 3's chip may be upgraded A5 instead
An apparent discovery Sunday has shown what's purported as the iPad 3's mainboard with an unexpected A5X, not A6, processor name. The WeiPhone details don't directly indicate what this would imply, but they imply more of an evolution than a major overhaul. A date code on top suggests it was made in 2011 week 46, or about November 14-20 and the timeframe when iPad 3 production may have started.
The board also shows two 16GB Hynix flash memory chips for storage, although it's unknown if 32GB will be the baseline or just a mid-tier model like in 2010 and 2011.
Two possibilities exist for what an A5X could mean depending on Apple's interpretation of what a fifth-generation part uses. It could be a quad-core version of the existing ARM Cortex-A9 architecture in the A5, making it more of a parallel to (if likely faster than) NVIDIA's Tegra 3. Alternately, though less likely, it could still be dual-core and use either a higher clock speed on a new 28-nanometer process or the new ARM Cortex-A15 architecture that Samsung is using in the Exynos 5250.
Graphics will likely get a boost regardless of the underlying processor given the likely 2048x1536 display. Most 2011-era mobile graphics couldn't handle that resolution or would be too slow. As such, it's probable that the next iPad will use either a higher-clocked version of the iPad 2's PowerVR SGX543MP2 dual-core video or its quad-core relative, the SGX543MP4 seen in the PS Vita.
Multiple tips have the new iPad being unveiled on March 7 with a presumed, though not confirmed, March 16 release. Even if conservative, the A5X would give Apple a time-to-market advantage by shipping months ahead of a future Samsung Galaxy Tab that would have to wait until late in the spring at best to use an Exynos 5250. [via MacRumors]