The latest batch of rumors about the hardware architecture of Apple's next-generation devices is coming fast and furious. So far, they suggest that Apple is moving to Qualcomm baseband radios, beefing up the GPU with the latest designs from Imagination Technologies, doubling the CPU cores, and giving the iPad the higher-resolution display it so richly deserves.
That Apple might move to Qualcomm as the supplier for its next-generation iPhone has been rumored since last September. At that time, the CDMA iPhone 4 was still just an oft-recurring rumor, but Qualcomm was the most likely supplier for a CDMA baseband radio for a Verizon-compatible iPhone. China's Commercial Times reported that Apple was so pleased with Qualcomm's assistance in building a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 that the company would use Qualcomm baseband processors for the iPhone 5.
Qualcomm already produces baseband chips that work with both CDMA and GSM standards, and according to sources speaking to Engadget, both the next-gen iPad and next-gen iPhone will use a dual-mode Qualcomm chip. This would allow Appleto sell the same iPad or iPhone for use on both AT&T and Verizon in the US, instead of selling separate versions of the iPhone 4 as it does now. It also supports Verizon CFO Francis Shammo's statement that a CDMA-compatible iPad is coming soon.
Now with 100% more CPU and GPU!
Also, Apple is rumored to be introducing a dual-core Cortex A9-based design to replace the current single-core Cortex A8-based A4 processor used in the iPad and iPhone 4.
In addition to getting a CPU boost, Apple's next-gen mobile processor should also be getting a shot in the GPU arm by incorporating the latest PowerVR SGX core from Imagination Technologies. Apple used a single PowerVR SGX 535 core in the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, but is said to be incorporating the SGX 543 in the A5.
Four times the pixels for four times the fun!
The ability to push so many pixels so fast doesn't make a whole lot of sense, however, unless Apple plans to increase the resolution of the iPad's display. As speculated last summer, it appears as though the next generation iPad will get a "Retina-class" display with 2048 x 1536 pixels, doubled from the original's 1024 x 768 resolution. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith noted that iBooks 1.1 contained at least one graphic that used the same pixel-doubling naming scheme used for the Retina display on the iPhone 4, and MacRumors followed that up by noting additional pixel-doubled graphics in iBooks 1.2.
While such a resolution doesn't quite match the 326ppi of the iPhone 4 or latest iPod touch, it would still clock in at 260ppi. That's a much higher pixel density than what the current iPad offers, with the same benefits that pixel doubling brought to the iPhone—easy upscaling of older apps and a simple method for making higher-resolution art for newer apps.