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Sep 25, 2014

“iPad Plus” to Get Custom A8X Silicon from Taiwan with Love

In about a month from now Apple will feature a new showcase to announce (and possibly even release) its biggest iPad yet: a jumbo-sized 13-inch tablet which, by the looks of things, could well end up being called iPad Plus.

Confirming rumors that we were hard pressed to believe, Apple this month indeed rolled out not one, but two all-new iPhone models, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Both smartphones rely on the same A8 processor that could well power even a laptop.

Apple has “big” plans

And when we say big, we mean really big. A 13-inch, uber-iPad that’s said to sport an even faster chip called the "A8X." The move wouldn’t be a surprise. Apple has used the “X” designation for tablet chips in the past, and if the planned screen size is any indication, it’s going to need it. A-series chips marked “X” are custom-designed versions of existing SoCs employed by iPhones. These processors are built to output twice or even three times more graphical power, mainly because of the bigger screen size of the iPads. A 13-inch tablet would undoubtedly require the most X-treated chip in the entire Apple lineup.

From Taiwan with love

The rumor comes from Taiwan, where it is said that Apple could be on track to unveil this enterprise-oriented iPad as soon as next month. The Cupertino behemoth hasn’t confirmed any plans to hold another showcase, but it’s happened before - two big events one month apart. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will be in charge with producing the powerful new silicon which boasts a faster CPU & GPU combo, plus 2GB of RAM. While the extra memory makes sense, the increased graphical output is mandatory, considering the large number of extra pixels. Power efficiency is likely not a problem, as Apple has easily maintained a 10-hour autonomy on all its tablets since day one. A larger tablet would logically include a proportionally larger battery. So that’s one problem that the engineers can tick off their checklist.

Taking on Microsoft

It doesn’t take an expert to see what Apple is doing. With Microsoft eyeing the business sector with its Surface Pro 3, Apple wants to be well positioned to grab a slice of the pie. The versatile iOS already acts as a lever in this outlook, but the device also needs to prove more portable, cost-efficient, and dependable from a security standpoint. Considering Apple's promises for 2014 and the outcome of this year’s iPhone rumors, it’s quite likely that Tim Cook indeed has “one more thing” for us this year.

iPad mockups
Image credits to Martin Hajek


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