One thing that gets only a fraction of the attention that the iPad has generated is the question of its processing power. The iPad will be powered by a chip called the “A4” and that’s about all that Apple has told anyone. It will be a System-on-a-Chip (SoC), similar to the iPhone and other devices, and speculation has been that it will be a new version of the Cortex-A8. One insider says it’s more like a stripped-down, “nothing to write home about” A8.
Jon Stokes at Ars Technica says that the reason Apple has been so quiet about the A4 SoC is because, well, it’s not that special. If they did go public with its core processing specs, much of the bonanza of free publicity for the iPad would be lost as talk would quickly devolve not to what the device will be good for, but instead to what it’s not.
He’s got a point, since most of what is being talked about right now is how the iPad will (or won’t, or could, or might) do to revolutionize [insert everyday computing task here].
What Stokes says is that the A4 will merely be a single-core A8 in 1GHz and will be a lot like the other Apple products in the “simple device” market – i.e. the iPhone and similar electronics that aren’t full-blown desktop/notebooks. Basically, this makes the iPad an iPhone/iPad with a little bit faster processor (1GHz rather than the phone’s 600).
As Apple Insider points out, this refutes the earlier assumption by many that the iPad would include the rumored A9 CPU. Of course, they also come up with a reason why this is a good thing. Despite the fact that this makes the iPad a glorified iPhone – an iPhone that, by the way, might work a little faster, but that won’t fit easily in your pocket.
Regardless, the devices are getting a lot of buzz and will probably have record sales as early adopters snatch them up on release.