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Nvidia four-core chip to power quad-res Apple iPad

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Comment Nvidia's move to go public on its four-core processor plans come, some readers will recall, just a month or so after it was claimed Apple's second-generation iPad will sport just such a chip, and weeks after it was suggested the iPad 3 will be out as early as the autumn.

Nonsense, said some. Apple wouldn't release iPad 2 this spring, as it seems set to do, then upgrade it again six months down the line.

Maybe, but Nvidia's release timetable shows how Apple might achieve this plan if it had such a move in mind. So let's have some fun seeing where this might lead.

Nvidia's 'Kal-El' chip - presumably to ship as Tegra 3 - will go into mass production in August. That's enough time for Apple to get it into the iPad 3 - perhaps the iPad HD - and launch it in late August or early September, the time of the year it regularly updates the iPod family.

Why iPad HD? Because rumours suggest a future iPad will sport a 2048 x 1536 display. This was originally assumed to be a feature of the iPad 2, but most pundits now reckon that's too early, not least because it'll require an impressive graphics engine, and such and engine did not, until today, exist officially.

If iPad 2 will have an iPad-like 1024 x 768 screen, it'll be able to run perfectly adequately with a 1GHz single-core ARM-based chip like Apple's A4. But with the competition keenly touting dual-core processors, Apple will probably feel the need to double up its core count too.

So we can see iPad 2 debuting in the coming months with a 1-1.5GHz Apple A5 on board.

Now a rumour that recently came right out of the blue followed blogger John Gruber's off-hand remark that Apple will launch a second iPad this year, in the autumn. This is self-confessed guesswork on Gruber's part, but it's based on a variety of hints from his sources.

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