Apple’s next generation of mobile iDevices will be powered principally by A5-class System-on-a-Chip (SoC) hardware, according to Rumors’ sources. The A6 will indeed be introduced next year, as has been long rumored, but may be exclusive to the family of next-generation AppleTV devices at first.
According to sources, the iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5 and iPad 3 will all be powered by a series of chips that, regardless of how they will be marketed by Apple, will be essentially unchanged from the A5 except for clock speed differences and a possible switch of suppliers (thusly, also possibly a switch in manufacturing processes but with little functional effect). Unless the iPad is split into two or more tiers as has been considered for the entire iOS device family more than once in the past and is expected to happen with the AppleTV’s next generation, the A6 is expected to be exclusive in its initial production run to the new AppleTV family.
The A6, although only recently a finalized design and still only in initial test manufacturing runs at TSMC, Apple’s only known manufacturing partner for the new design (but at least one other is believed to be quietly working with Apple to ensure that Cupertino is never as dependent on any one supplier as they have been with Samsung in recent years with the A1-A5V1), will be a quad-core Cortex 9 MPCore SoC with significantly expanded coprocessor units, a considerably upgraded GPU unit capable of driving resolutions in excess of 2800×1600, and twice as much RAM (1GB) with significantly greater performance (LPDDR2 at 300-333MHz doubled to 600-667) than the 512MB 266MHz LPDDR2 in the A5.
This will bring Apple nearly up to parity with Nvidia’s quad-core “Tegra” ARM SoCs which are considered to be among the leaders in the ARM marketplace, and enable interpretation of very complex speech and visual (3D gesture — think Kinect) input technologies that will make today’s “Siri” look crude by comparison.