Traditionally, Apple has been content to stay a step behind the latest processor technology, and reap the power efficiency benefits, and that's just what we heard it would do again... but we dreamed of a quad-core CPU. Today, right now on stage, the Cupertino computer company unveiled a mobile chip with quad core graphics. Not quite the same thing, but it doesn't hurt. This is the Apple A5X.
The A5, if you'll recall, had a integrated PowerVR SGX543MP2, a dual-core graphics solution that did quite nicely in games, but recently the PlayStation Vita used the quad-core version of the same, the SGX543MP4+. We've got a hunch that's what you'll find inside the A5X as well. It's also worth noting that Samsung builds quad-core ARM Mali graphics into some of its existing chips, like the one in the Galaxy S II. Also, core count alone isn't an indication of performance, because the Nvidia Tegra 3 has 12 graphics cores, and Apple claims the A5X has four times the performance of the Tegra 3... whatever that might mean. (The company didn't say what benchmarks it tested with.) Apple says the new graphics abilities will be responsible for pushing pixels to that new 2048 x 1536 resolution Retina Display, and also handling duties like stabilization for the new iPad's 1080p camera.
What happened to the A6 that was leaked late last month? Tim Cook didn't say, but our best guess is that the A5X is an intermediate step and perhaps it will appear in another, less power efficient product. We'll let you know what we hear.