More Thoughts on Apple’s Second Gen iPad And Retina display

In yesterdays piece I wrote about Apple’s second generation iPad that we’re all anxiously awaiting with baited breath.

It got me thinking when reading some back and forth discussions on Twitter yesterday about how Apple will (or maybe I should say would) pull off handling a doubling of pixel resolution on a 9.7″ display (currently the iPad’s display runs 132 PPI).

First of all, it goes without saying that pushing that many pixels on the same GPU the current iPad has could be disastrous. First of all, it’s one thing to run a display with double pixel resolution when not running apps, or particularly intensive ones like Rage HD. To run current iPad games on it’s 9.7″ display with double pixel resolution could certainly strain the current GPU it’s using, causing huge performance issues. I have no doubt in my mind Apple has been thinking about this for months discussing this in their engineering meetings. In fact, they probably have been prototyping a second generation iPad with a Retina display for some time now.

Currently, the iPad runs a PowerVR SGX GPU. Logically I think Apple would have no choice but to include a much more sophisticated GPU to not only push the higher resolution, but also so that graphically intensive games can run acceptably well.

More on the GPU, I think Apple will end up having to use some iteration of ARM’s new 4th generation GPU called the Mali-T604. Arm announced in early November at the ARM technology conference in Santa Clara that this will deliver up to a 5x performance improvement over current Mali GPUs. Sounds like a great candidate for Apple’s second generation iPad doesn’t it?

If ARM’s next GPU performs as well as they say it will (I have no reason to doubt it won’t), then I don’t think Apple will need to do much in the way of major changes to the iPad’s current design. Just drop the new GPU in and you’re done.