My guess at iPad 2 hardware and changes

Discussion in 'iPad' started by thesmoth, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. thesmoth, Nov 23, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010

    thesmoth macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    I've been reading a lot about current android tablets and phones, and I've compiled a list of what I think are reasonable improvements that will be made for the iPad 2. Knowing apples history of always underwhelming with specs, but making up for it with smooth software, these are my guesses.

    1) Dual core, 1 ghz custom apple A9 processor - I have decided I want an iPad, and i'm going to wait for the iPad 2. If it doesn't have a dual core processor, that will break it for me. I can give or take pretty much everything else, but this I have to demand.

    2) Larger standard flash disks. When the original iPad came out, one of the biggest jokes was the base size of 16 gigabytes. My 16 gig ipod touch is a pain in the ass because I cannot fit nearly all my music, NO videos, and if I want to install new apps I basically have to go rooting around my library and deleting songs from my ipod. A device like the iPad that is supposed to be used for more content manipulation and creation than an ipod MUST have more space. A standard 32 gig size for the entry level $499 iPad 2 would be acceptable. I know a lot of android devices still only have 8-16 gigs, but they also have SD slots so that point is moot.

    3) I expect the screen to be the same

    4) Low res front facing camera for face time, NO rear facing camera. I don't see the point in a rear facing camera on something as large as the iPad. It makes sense to take out your cell phone and snap some pics (or your ipod), but it wouldn't make any sense with an ipad.

    5) More ram. Most likely they will give 512 megs, but 1 gig is possible (although almost certainly not going to happen).

    6) Updated graphics chip. This would be nice to see since the current one is the same as was in the iphone 3GS.

    7) Possibly a bit thinner, lighter, and longer battery life. It could have any or all of these improvements, but to me it wouldn't be a big deal either way.

    8) Gyroscope. Of course it will be able to play all of those fancy new games that use the gyroscope of the iphone 4 for aiming.

    The current iPad is so successful, I can't see them doing more than the moderate speed/space bumps i've suggested above. My problem with the current iPad is that it's GREAT for the apps out right now, but there are not really any good iPad apps out (with the exception of note taker HD). The ultimate usefulness of the iPad will be strictly determined by app content and developer creativity, and I want a new iPad with faster specs that can accommodate future apps that really start to use the full potential of the iPad. It won't be until the iPad 2 is released that there really are a decent collection of killer iPad apps out, and so for me it doesn't make sense to buy one until then.

    Angry birds HD, flight control HD, etc... are much better on the iPad than iphone, but they aren't exactly making the iPad a must have device for most people. I need it to allow me to do something BETTER and more efficiently than I already do with my macbook pro. I think using it as a PDF reader for scientific papers will be a huge draw for me, since i've been meaning to move away from massive stacks of printed papers I have on my desk. Obviously I can use the current iPad for a PDF reader, but like i've said I want more to make the purchase worth while and not just a flashy gadget.
  2. jamesryanbell macrumors 68020


    Mar 17, 2009
    The "must have" thing that made me pull the trigger on mine was the ability to type on a full size keyboard (virtual...but im FAST with it) for email and web browsing on something that weighed one pound. That's really useful for me. 90% of what i did on the go was email, web, and music so this works great for me. My macbook pro is now my stationary desktop replacement. I have no need for FaceTime on ipad because I have an iPhone 4, so I'll be keeping mine for a long time! :)
  3. bentrider macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2010
    I don't see a dual core coming. Too much on the battery. Remember that battery technology is what is still holding a lot of mobile tech back.

    I'm sure there will be at least a front facing camera. I could care less about a rear one.

    I would love a Retina display but that doesn't sound likely until at least 2012 according to suppliers.

    I'm sure there will be a big RAM jump.

    Probably 32, 64 sizes only. Can't see them going 128 yet for cost reasons.

    Maybe 4G capable? Maybe Verizon and ATT versions?

    Honestly thought there would be a 7" version but apparently not according to Steve's smack talk.
  4. redman042 macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    I think the OP is on the right track. These updates all make sense, except perhaps a form factor change. I think it's a bit early for that, unless they want to go to a less expensive method of construction. But then that seems to do a 180 on the whole aluminum unibody initiative.

    I also agree that apps and OS updates are where it's at for the iPad, though I think there are already some "killer apps" that really justify the added cost. Safari is the most overlooked example. Yeah I can browse all day on the iPhone, but the full screen experience of the iPad makes it 100% more user-friendly. Another area where the iPad really trumps the iPhone is PDF viewing. I have GoodReader on both devices, but on the iPad I can load up technical documents for work and carry all the info I need to meetings without the bulk of a huge bag of reference documents. Plus I can search the docs, mark them up, email them, etc. It's really changed how I do business, and it wouldn't be practical on a screen that was any smaller than this.
  5. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    I was under the impression that the dual core processors were very efficient?

    You have a point, and knowing apples penchant for making every cent they can and re-using old hardware as much as they can, they may just keep the A8. But seriously, the same processer for 2 years, in a time when every month or two a new processor is released? Updating it once a year is VERY infrequent, but obviously works well for them, but once every TWO years?

    I would imagine if you were doing the exact same thing on a dual core ipad as you do on the old single core ipad, it would use a similar amount of energy. It might even use less if you can have two cores running at lower speeds and only ramping up when needed. It would also allow the option to have more power to use with fancier apps, and in that case you would just have to accept the loss in battery for the performance gained, or just not use those high performance apps.

    I guess if it has the same processor, better graphics chip, more ram, and at least SOME sort of an improvement in CPU, I would be willing to bite, but it certainly wouldn't be worth upgrading from an old ipad.

  6. Nishi100 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 27, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I cannot see a dual core; unless Apple adds a rear facing camera and a decent version of iMovie, with "desktop" features, like greenscreen; all of this will need a dual core.

    Apple doesn't care what their customers think (the orientation lock) even if only 10% of people want it; Apple will put it on. If SJ's wants a rear facing camera. He will put one on. If they put a rear facing camera on the iPad, then, I think, they will use a 3.2mp and use an 5mp for the iPad 3.
  7. JulianL macrumors 65816

    Feb 2, 2010
    London, UK
    Your original post was very well thought out and sensible and the only thing that lept out at me was your insistence on a dual core processor. Your explanation above makes me think that your original comment wasn't as dumb as I first thought because your extra reasoning above also has lots of good stuff in it, but also a few errors.

    Firstly, I agree with you entirely that keeping the same processor for 2 years running would be a bit much, even for Apple. Cortex A9 based CPUs will be what many (most?) smartphone manufacturers are shipping next year and I find it hard to imagine that Apple would pump out an iPad 2 still based on an A8 design. I do think that it will be based on a single A9 core though and not dual core.

    Just going from an A8 to an A9 based design should give about a 25% performance increase at the same clock speed which implies the same power consumption so already they have a gain there. It is also highly likely (in my opinion) that Apple will also upgrade the manufacturing process for their SoC and probably go from the current 45nm process down to a 32nm (I doubt they will go further due to Apple's usual mostly gradual changes strategy). Dropping to 32nm should reduce power consumption at the same clock speed which would then give them the ability to get that 25% A8->A9 performance gain while at the same time also having lower power draw, or alternatively to clock higher than 1GHz while still drawing the same as the current A4 (or some blend of the two). It's also worth pointing out that Apple have bought two entire semiconductor teams via taking over two semiconductor design companies, each of whom have in depth experience of tweaking ARM designs to improve the performance/power characteristics, so it's possible that some extra Apple magic sauce might also be thrown into this mix.

    Finally, you say above "I was under the impression that the dual core processors were very efficient?". I have a couple of comments on that.

    Firstly, as already discussed the A9 being seen in dual core is a more modern design than the A8 so there's that general 25% increase, that's nothing to do with dual core, just a more modern design in the individual core(s).

    Secondly, for getting higher performance then dual core is typically more power efficient, this is because the power consumption and heat generation is not linear with clock speed. As an example let's say we want to double the performance of Apple's existing A4 processor in the current iPad. It's clocked at 1GHz so the obvious way to do that is to just double the clock speed to 2GHz but that is highly unlikely to end up doubling the power and heat for the chip, it's more likely to be 3x or 4x the power and heat. The alternative would be to put in a dual core (based on the same core design) which would double the power and heat so, compared to the 3x to 4x of the single core approach, is much more efficient. As already discussed though, people aren't just doubling the core count using existing core designs and manufacturing processes, they're making improvements in these areas at the same time as doubling the core counts so power and heat are typically staying at similar levels to the previous single core stuff. (For power, heat and performance I am using the term "double" as an approximation, the reality would be more complex to cause things to not be exactly double.)

    One last point, you mention "It might even use less if you can have two cores running at lower speeds and only ramping up when needed". In fact existing single cores do this, they clock themselves down significantly when not doing heavy work. It's actually a difficult area because a CPU is a bit like a human body, fit people can have very low resting heart beats but it's bad for the health to drop one's resting heart beat to zero! CPUs are similar and things can start to break if there is too great a clock disparity between different parts of the core, and synchronising clocks in a state of frequency transition can be tricky. Luckily for all of us this is one of the speciality areas that Apple aquired with one of their company aquisitions, innovative techiques for playing with clock speeds and power supplies within CPU cores, so we might see some exciting stuff in terms of efficiency innovations at some point in the next few years.

    Anyway, apart from thinking that it's going to have a single core Cortex A9 based CPU, I personally think that you've nailed the spec.

    - Julian
  8. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    Thanks for that post, it really clarified a lot of things for me! I didn't realize a lot of the new processors were coming out in single core version as well as dual core. I thought the transition was going to be straight to dual core, so that is good to know. From what you're typing it sounds like an A9 based processor either at 1 ghz, or maybe at 1.2 ghz (if they can balance the increased power usages for the higher clock speed with lower power draw from smaller 32 nm features and fancy power management) would be a nice improvement.

    The reason I didn't buy an iPad when it launched (aside from being a student and not having a ton of extra cash) was that it couldn't do what I wanted it to do on launch day. I knew by the time it had everything I wanted, the iPad 2 would be out so I might as well wait. I thought the idea of the iPad with multitasking and a variety of more specialized apps would be amazing, but I knew it would take time. I figured that the iPad 2 would be a good time to get into the iPad ownership game since by that time any design flaws would be worked out, it would be faster and work better with multitasking, and it would already have decent library of good apps designed specifically for the iPad. Once developers have these in their hands for longer I would imagine that more really great ideas will 'click' and we'll see some really innovative stuff coming out (like note taker HD). Also the iphoto and imovie editing stuff on the iphone 4 would be really cool on the iPad, but with the bigger screen it would be nice to have a big more power behind it.

    I think those set of specs, with a single core A9 like you've explained, would make a lot of sense from apple and I think I would be disappointed if they were any more frugal (keeping the base size as 16 gigs, for instance). It would be very nice if they had a little extra surprise (new software features, special graphics chip, etc...), but I think with the modest list of improvements in this thread I would be happy to buy one. I think the iPad is already quite evolved since it's essentially a large ipod touch / iphone, and so apple has had quite a few years to develop iOS and work out hardware issues.


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