Print 51 comment(s) - last by Sungpooz.. on Jan 24 at 11:29 AM

New custom A4 will double graphics processing at the same clock speed

While there has been some speculation about Apple's "Retina" display for the iPad 2, there have been few details regarding the tablet's resolution -- until now

MacRumors suggests that simply doubling the iPad's current resolution (1024x768) to 2048x1536 at a 260 DPI would result in a display that, while not exactly "Retina", would be easier for developers to adapt to. Apple doubled its resolution on the iPhone when it introduced the iPhone 4 for this very reason, with older apps running pixel-doubled.

This approach is looking more likely, considering version 1.1 of Apple's iBooks app accidentally included artwork for a pixel-doubled iPad. The bookmark icon included art for the iPad, iPhone, iPhonex2, and iPadx2. The x2 versions are exactly double the resolution of the original versions. The graphics have been removed in subsequent versions of the app.

While this isn't, by any means, confirmation that the iPad 2 will be double the resolution of its predecessor, it certainly is evidence that it may be likely. 

But a doubling of resolution also requires some additional graphics processing power. AppleInsider reports that this will come in the form of the a new custom A4 chip, jumping from from the SGX535 to the new SGX543 graphics and video core, reportedly doubling the processing power at the same clock speed. The new core also supports OpenCL. 

The new A4 also includes acceleration for video encoding and decoding, meaning improved video-conferencing via the FaceTime app. It could also mean HDMI support -- already on Apple TV -- for the iPad and iPhone.

An AI source, described as "familiar with Apple's graphics strategy," said the company would most likely be going to multiple cores, as well. According to the source, "The most likely configuration of Apple's next custom chip is reportedly the SGX543MP2, which pairs two SGX543 cores to work as one, offering around four times the capability of the previous A4 in graphics and video tasks."

As for general purpose processing, Apple will likely employ multi-core ARM Cortex-A9.

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RE: Seems a little unlikely.
By VahnTitrio on 1/17/2011 11:00:01 AM , Rating: 2
I was thinking the same thing. The pixel count is quadruple what it was before, and at best you would be getting double the processing power. These seems like it would be slower and consume more power, but it probably would like nice.

RE: Seems a little unlikely.
By freeagle on 1/18/2011 7:56:21 AM , Rating: 2
You are forgetting that Apple products are magical.

In the world of magic, apparently, doubling the lenght of edges of a rectangle results in doubling the surface area of the rectangle. So, obviously, doubling the power of a CPU/GPU will surely be enough.

RE: Seems a little unlikely.
By psonice on 1/18/2011 8:13:20 AM , Rating: 2
Not exactly magical, but 2 GPU cores, each performing 2x faster than the original ipad gpu gives you 4x the performance which is enough to run everything at the new res without slowdown.

It's the dual-core GPU which is rumoured, which does exist and does give 4x performance from what I've seen. And drivers for this chip are present in the latest iOS beta.

I'm still not 100% convinced though - what would a screen like this cost, and what's battery life going to be like? Apple won't do it if it's going to push costs up too far, or battery life down too much.

RE: Seems a little unlikely.
By Alexstarfire on 1/18/2011 12:05:19 PM , Rating: 2
We'll have to see. A 4x jump, or 300% increase, in processing power is hard to imagine. In discrete GPUs for desktops we're lucky to see even a 2x jump, or 100% increase, let alone a 4x jump.

I don't doubt this chip is vastly superior to the old one, but I don't see this working out on all fronts, being price, performance, and cost.

RE: Seems a little unlikely.
By SPOOFE on 1/18/2011 1:14:28 PM , Rating: 2
In discrete GPUs for desktops we're lucky to see even a 2x jump, or 100% increase, let alone a 4x jump.

What leaves me less skeptical is how new this market segment is; discrete desktop GPU's are a very mature market with lots of demand, which tends to drive costs and prices down but also tends to max out technical capabilities. Tablets have been around for a while, but it's only recently that they're seriously being considered as mass-market, general public items, as opposed to niche products for a small but fervent few.

But now things are starting to heat up, Apple's going to start seeing some real competition, and the time for playing safe and conservative are over.

RE: Seems a little unlikely.
By omnicronx on 1/20/2011 10:52:16 AM , Rating: 2
You are assuming that the GPU alone was the only bottleneck for an integrated system like the iPad..

A perfect example would be the galaxy S's PowerVR SGX 540 GPU which is suppose to be able to push something rediculous like 90 million polys a second but comes nowhere close in real life performance. (maybe 1/3 of that if you are lucky)

As a result a removing of such bottlenecks and a big increase in speed at the same time could very well lead to 4x graphical improvements.

Considering the next iPad will most likely have a dual core SOC with an exponentially better GPU, and perhaps an improved design, it could very well happen..

.. I just don't think you will see it this time around ;)

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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