The photo, showing an “A5X” system-on-a-chip, appeared in a forum post at Chinese site WeiPhone that claims the image shows the iPad 3 logic board.
An “A5X” designation indicates that Apple plans to use an upgrade to the A5 chip that powers the current iPad 2 rather than a new “A6” quad-core processor that some have speculated Apple would include the new iPad.
Chip analyst Nathan Brookwood says Apple has always been able to squeeze more performance from its hardware than its Android competitors because it controls the hardware and software. For example, he notes the iPad 2 with its dual-core A5, performs better than dual-core Android counterparts.
Still, Brookwoood said he wants to see how well well the iPad 3 performs versus tablet competitors now on the market like the Asus Prime that uses Nvidia’s Tegra 3, a quad-core processor.
“Performance matters a lot for games and advanced applications,” said Brookwood, who heads the Insight64 consultancy. “There will clearly be an advantage to having quad-core there for gaming and to the extent that more websites move to HTML5, something both Apple and Microsoft are promoting, you want more horsepower under the hood.”
If the A5X photo is real, the logic board shows a pair of 16 GB flash memory chips from Hynix, notes MacRumors, and a rectangular Apple-branded chip.
There is no official word from Apple as to whether the iPad 3, or whatever it ends up being called, is even in the works, but numerous reports from supply chain partners and others indicate that Apple is far a long on the successor to its best-selling iPad 2, which many expect to be unveiled at an event in San Francisco on March 7.