Before I get started with this, please take everything in this post with a grain of salt. The accuracy of the Apple rumors community historically has varied widely between spot on, and, well, about as good as the ancient art of Tyromancy. That being said, because of how secretive Apple as a company is, following these rumors sure is a lot of fun-- Regardless of whether or not they turn out to be true.

First off, since we learned about the Retina Display of the iPhone 4, the Internet has been rumbling with the potential of a similar "Retina" display in the successor to the iPad. According to Mac Rumors, this might not be as far fetched as originally thought. Apparently, version 1.1 of Apple's iBooks [Free] "accidentally" included some graphical resources that are twice the size of the ones currently in use on the iPad.

Now, depending on how you read these virtual tea leaves, this could mean one of two things: Someone at Apple knows that rumor hounds will dig through absolutely everything they can for any kind of hint, or the screen resolution of the iPad 2 will be double that of the current iPad. This would put the screen resolution at 2048x1536, sporting 260 DPI. It's not quite the pixel density of the iPhone 4's Retina Display, but you typically hold the iPad much farther away from your eyes. This means that even at a lower DPI this screen could potentially provide a similar "Retina" effect. (I suppose there's a third alternative that this means neither of these things, but how much fun is that?)

Things get even more interesting though when you consider that Global Direct Parts, the guys who had the "iPhone 5" parts video (which actually turned out to be the CDMA Verizon iPhone), also have their hands on a screen that fits the previously mentioned description. The price of this part? $218.19, compared to the original $144.99 the original iPad screen cost at launch from the same site.

But what does the higher price of the components have to do with anything? Well, as appleguy123 points out on the Mac Rumors forums, according to Apple's 2010 Annual Report:

The Company expects its gross margin percentage to decrease in future periods compared to levels achieved during 2010 and anticipates gross margin levels of about 36% in the first quarter of 2011. This expected decline is largely due to a higher mix of new and innovative products that have higher cost structures and deliver greater value to customers, and expected and potential future component cost and other cost increases.

Whether this refers specifically to the increased cost of the components in the iPad 2, or something else entirely is anyone's guess, but it is a curious coincidence. If the screen does turn out to be 2048x1536, there's an entirely new issue to be addressed: The sheer number of pixels the iPad GPU is going to have to push. For the sake of comparison, the resolution of a 30" LCD is only barely higher, at 2560x1600. Gaming at that resolution is a formidable task for even dedicated gaming PC's, much less a mobile device. That's higher resolution than what we consider "HD" these days as well, which only weighs in at a paltry 1920x1080 in comparison.

Mac Rumors has an answer to this too, courtesy of Apple Insider. If these rumors turn out to be true, both the iPad 2 and iPhone 5 will use a dual-core SGX543 GPU from Imagination Technologies. What makes this rumor hold more water than your typical bean spillage by an "industry insider" is the fact that the iOS 4.3 beta already includes drivers for this GPU. Odd coincidence, eh? What's even cooler is that not only do these GPUs boast some incredible performance figures, they also support anywhere between two and sixteen cores handled entirely by hardware, without a single change to any software required to scale performance.

Again, I'm not entirely sure how true these rumors are, but there is something strange afoot. It would make the most sense to double the iPad screen resolution, as it would allow graceful upscaling via pixel doubling much like running a non-Retina Display app on the Retina Display of the iPhone 4. If Global Direct Parts' pricing can be trusted, the component cost of the screen doesn't seem that far out of line. On top of all that, it's really hard to deny the coincidence between the GPU rumors and Apple actually including the drivers for that very GPU inside of their own operating system.

We'll have to wait and see what Apple reveals as the inevitable iPad 2, but if the Apple rumors scene is to be believed, it has potential to be an insane gaming machine.

  • andrzej raczynski

    is it me, or are those bigger leaves about 3.5-4 times the size of the smaller ones. definitely not x2.

    somehow i don't see apple engineers being that stupid, perhaps the marketing group, but not the engineers.

    • Arnold Kim

      2x in each dimension = 4x bigger total.

    • Eli Hodapp

      It's you, they're exactly double.

    • Anonymous

      Apple has perhaps the most highly regarded marketing team of any company today. What are you talking about?

  • ImNoSuperMan

    wont the extra processing power be negated by higher resolution? What could be really insane is that iPhone 5 is supposed to have the same gpu as well. What I'm wondering about is what that thing will be able to pump out @ 960x480 resolution of iPhone 5 if it does end up having the same gpu (even if a bit underclocked to save battery) as the iPad.

  • Dave

    What does this mean for iphone / ipad cross compatibility? One of the great things with the existing line up is even non native iphone apps look decent. Not sure this can/will be the case if the ipad goes to 2x.

    Regardless 2 cores would be welcome. The existing ipad is ridiculously good. Can wait to see what Apple turns out in revs 2 3 and 4.

    • Adams Immersive

      Scaled-up iPhone apps will look better than ever (which it to say, not that great at all).

      Retina displays look really nice even when the full res is not used, because you get pure, smooth colors and no “screen door” visible over everything.

  • Adams Immersive

    These specs (the screen especially) sound too good to be true; really expensive to make. But the evidence is strong! So I’m thinking that due to cost, the retina screen may be reserved for the top-end iPads.

    (The bottom iPads could at least get the new thing form factor and cameras, or they could remain the same as always, just like you can still buy an iPhone 3GS on the low end.)

    One clue may come with Apple’s next financial call, if they report something like a “low margin product transition” expected in the quarter ahead. That could mean they are eating the cost of a really expensive part like a 10” retina display, while keeping consumer prices low (maybe even the same as the old iPad).

    • Eli Hodapp

      What I wonder is if they'll start these Retina Display iPads at a higher price point, say like $600ish while keeping a $500 old-style iPad in the lineup. They did something similar with the 3rd generation iPod Touch where if you bought the 8GB model you were technically just buying a 2nd generation... You had to jump up to the mid-grade model to actually get the new hardware.

      • Adams Immersive

        I think they’ll have to do something like that. The MacRumors story notes this part (supposedly) costing $75 more than the iPad 1’s screen did at launch. Apple might choose to eat that $75 at the top end for the sake of volume, but eating at the $499 end sounds a lot less likely. And an iPad 1 (or non-retina low-end iPad 2) for $499 is still a great machine.

      • Eli Hodapp

        Well, the thing is, who knows how credible that price point is for the screen anyway. With the kind of volume Apple buys things in, they could be paying much less... OR just banking on the fact that technology -always- goes down in price. For instance, Global Direct Parts originally listed the iPad screen at $144 at launch, it's $63 now. If they can keep their price points, potentially eat a bit of profit at launch, they'll once again blow every other tablet out of the water.

      • Anonymous

        Also, the only way they could get away with the 3rd gen iPod Touch example was that all of the upgrades were in regards to the guts of the device - better graphics etc. Retina displays are so obvious (and of course would be heavily marketed) that Apple couldn't try the same thing without looking misleading or confusing.

      • Adams Immersive

        Not necessarily: Apple still sells the iPhone 3GS alongside the iPhone 4.

      • Michael Scrip

        Don't forget... Apple will be placing an order for 18 million of these screens for 2011.

        Maybe there is a volume discount?

        Whoever is building this crazy screen probably had to build a new factory just for Apple.

      • Anonymous

        Not having volume discounts is just bad business.

        So yes, I would say so.

      • Anonymous

        Not having volume discounts is just bad business.

        So yes, I would say so.

  • Nicolas Grignon

    Yes but I see few big flaws of this race to insane graphic rendering:
    - big increase of apps development time which will induce much more expensive apps
    - if the big game creators don't follow, we will have a big FAIL: a super machine with no great game licences!
    - touch and gyro are still far worst than a mouse/joystick/wheel....

    • Eli Hodapp

      1. Apple will likely keep the same price point, much like they've done with iterations of the iPod.
      2. I'm not sure how big of an issue price actually is. Developers have already proven that people are willing to pay a premium for amazing games.
      3. This already is the case with iOS devices. Modern devices are capable of graphics like Infinity Blade, but how many developers realize that potential?
      4. Eh, matter of opinion. For some games, multi-touch is fantastic. Try World of Goo on your iPad, for instance.

    • Adams Immersive

      I wouldn’t worry about those things:

      - iPads MAY cost $100-200 more at one end of the price scale, or they may stay the same, but they won’t jump from an affordable entry level of $500 to $1000! I doubt Apple will abandon the $500 entry point even if it means some models are retina and some aren’t.

      - App development time won’t increase they way you think. Higher-res art assets are needed (which need not take much additional time), but that affects only a small part of the development process.

      - Great games don’t come from the big houses alone, and the big houses have supported new iOS features before. They will again.

      - Touch and gyro are better than mouse/joystick/wheel for some kinds of games. Worse for others. Acceptable for many in the middle. And best of all, they’re on a device you already have and use for other things. As a result, gaming has been a huge success on iOS—for developers and for us gamers.

      • Aeroflux

        I agree that gyro is an excellent method of control in some games, but with an iPad, I'm worried about clocking somebody upside the head in the heat of battle. The astronomy apps would make good use of it though.

      • Adams Immersive

        I have visions of someone accidentally whipping it through the air like a giant throwing star, smashing through the window, and causing a toxic train derailment outside!

    • Anonymous

      Don't forget, everyone expected iPad to be around $1000 before it was originally announced.

  • TheFrost

    I have 6 months to save 700 hundred for this iPhone 5...

  • Baggon

    Crysis is dull.

  • Chickensex

    The iPad 1 was supposed to be a Beastly Gaming Machine and it is, but where are the games? 1 year since its been out and the best we can come up with is World of Goo and Aralon? Both decent games, but not what I had in mind after hearing how the iPad would be so great for gaming.

    And the 2 big name titles that I can think of that have been ported, SimCity and Civilation, are both watered down to the point of being futile.

    I really dont have high hopes for future iPads to be gaming machines. The hardware might be there, but developers are still treating it like an oversized iPhone, which is sad.

    • GeoSpyder

      I think part of the reason is because a lot of developers are: a) wanting to see what kind of apps make it on the iPad and b) are wanting to see what the iPad 2 can do. I wouldn't be surprised if, after the release of the iPad 2, we see more awesome games. Especially if the iPad 2 has even better gaming powers.

    • Jimmy TheFish

      The hardware is not there, the graphics capability and fillrate of the ipad is actually markedly worse than that of the ipod touch 4G or 3G because of the simple matter it has 5 times as much area to fill with the exact same GPU. The only difference being that it can use OpenGL2.0 but screw taht the fillrate is still for shit

      • appymappy

        I think you will find the real issue is the volume of users is not there. iPad app sales are only a small fraction of those achieved on iPhones. It is harder to justify investment for a platform with such relatively few users.

      • Michael B

        Yes, but the price points seem to be higher. $1 for an iPhone title, and $5 for an iPad title.

  • Phil Baxter

    The GPU talked about here is apparently the same as will be used in the soon to be announced Playstation Portable 2 - a system which has been described as having 'PS3 level power'. Even if that turns out to be true, the PS3 only has to render 1280x720 pixels (and often less), so to render at these talked about monster iPad 2 retina resolutions would certainly give the GPU a battering.

    The PS3 also has it's multi-core Cell CPU on hand, and some GPU tasks can be offloaded to the CPU to increase performance.

    It will certainly be interesting to see what iPad 2 has to offer, although I can't help but think people are hyping this up a little too much. I'm sure it will be good, but maybe not quite as good as this.

    • nizy

      Well this GPU supports Apple's own OpenCL, a standard they developed for using the GPU to do CPU tasks. Combine that with their Grand Central Dispatch code from Snow Leopard, which is designed to intelligently send processes to available cores and you have some massive potential. There's also the possibility that the CPU could get a bump to the Arm Cortex A9, which is multi-core too and being used in several upcoming (and even some released) Android devices. Of course what it would really need is software to be designed to be multi-core aware.

    • Ziggy

      I think you have some wrong information here.
      1st. PSP2 is rumored to have the same GPU series as the iPad 2 but likely with more cores

      2. PSP2 is rumored to have Xbox (note original Xbox) level of performance, not anywhere close to PS3 or Xbox 360

      3. Resolution is only part of the story for graphical quality and performance. The other half, texture size, render, shader quality, AA etc even more important for both graphical quality and graphical performance. (eg. GTA San Andreas at 1080P is much less demanding and looks much worse than GTA 4 at 600P). So far iPad gamies have been high on resolution but very low in texture quality, AA, shader etc.

      • Phil Baxter

        The Xbox 1 level stuff was an old rumour. More recent leaks have put the power at PS3 level.

      • AndreKGN

        The result on screen is supposedly looking like PS3-level-games. The system-performance will be markedly below PS3 levels.

  • Gifty74

    I have not seen this reported ANYWHERE, but mark MY words, that large hole at the bottom right that some think is an SD slot, or a larger speaker, is a cooling hole. How in the world could you put a dual core graphics processor in there without some form of cooling. They heat up within seconds of rendering any 3D graphics or HD. No way could you put that in a totally enclosed case.

    • Anonymous

      ...phones have dual core processors and don't have cooling holes. There's no way Apple's crazy design team would let cooling holes mess up their curves. Even my MacBook doesn't have any cooling holes.

      • asdf

        Actually, I heard that MacBook has air intake vent in its keyboard and the hot air goes out of screen hinge

      • Anonymous

        My point exactly! Apple always makes these elements out of sight, so they surely would never create a dedicated hole for them. It's an SD card reader or speaker, just like everyone is saying.

      • Anonymous

        My point exactly! Apple always makes these elements out of sight, so they surely would never create a dedicated hole for them. It's an SD card reader or speaker, just like everyone is saying.

  • PK

    Damnit, I was just gonna buy an ipod touch 4th gen with my tax refund money, should I just wait ? Will this new GPU be that big of a jump from 4th gen ?

    • PK

      just gonna go ahead and buy the 4th gen, 6 months or whatever is still a long ways and I want to play space miner damnit.

  • Jas

    Rumour seems highly dubious. Think about how much processing power is needed to run games fully maxxed out at 1920x1200 on a gaming PC, and the serious horsepower and cost of the GPU required. Then consider the power requirements and heat generated by such a gaming rig. Hardly feasible on an iPad, unless you seriously scale down the graphic effects. I'm running a water cooled gaming PC with water cooled GTX580 GPUfor referemnce.

    • Anonymous

      maybe games with high graphic effects that would lag at the retina solution will still run the old resolution?

    • Stephen Middlehurst

      Yes but what is the level of detail on your PC compared to an iPad? You're comparing what is at the end of the day a mobile gaming platform to a full-spec gaming rig, EVERYTHING on the PC is orders of magnitude more complicated and requires a vast amount more power to render.

  • Xeyad Haj Bakry

    with that kind resolution...there are way too many things to consider. Cost, performance, battery life, app size, camera resolution and etc, etc, etc. I can see Apple doing their magic in cost, and they'll probably do a good job in performance. but battery life, I just can't see a device with that kind of resolution staying for 10+ hours; batteries on a mobile device simply won't hold up for that long. App size is a really big issue as well. Right now, games like NOVA 2, GT Racing, and even Rage are weighing in about 900-1100 mb on the iPad with the current resolution, think when they double that! Even 32 GB will be hard to consider. And the current app store rules don't allow for more than 2GB, but if the rumors happen to be true, they'll probably change it. As for the camera, if they're going to put a camera like on the iPod Touch, it will absoultly look terrible on a resolution of that size!

    There is just way too many things to keep in mind for this kind of resolution. I can see it happening, just not this soon...

    • Anonymous

      The camera may look terrible, but it wouldn't be out of place... It would look like every other low quality laptop camera...

  • Anonymous

    Eh. Now universal apps will have massive file sizes.

  • Objection

    Now make that screen USEFUL other than for stuff straight off iTunes and you have a decent product. USB anyone?

    Oh and stop sayin Retina display like it actually means something, tell us the damn resolution like normal people!

  • Gog

    fcking crazy apple))) this is unreal support all devices at the moment for devs... and now ipad 2 with retina.... crazy...

  • Sl1pstream

    I can't see this happening. IPad 3, sure, but they're not going to split the user base a year after they launched the original product.

    There's also the problem of higher development costs, meaning more expensive games. If the price of a regular game exceeds the price of PSP minis or starts to get close to budget DS titles they lose the one thing that they have going for them, which is the price point. If games become more expensive expectations go up as well, so that means fixing games before submitting them and relying on customer feedback, which means QA, driving up the cost of a game even more.

    • Anonymous

      History shows that v2 of Apple products are usually significantly improved over the original. Mobility is the key to the future and why not make iPad 2 a kick*** gaming device for people on the go. Offer a controller (as an accessory) and there you go.

  • Jay

    Heck, I just wish they'd put the proper screen and cameras on the iPod touch. It was a travesty what they did to the current generation and it has kept me from upgrading my old one.

  • Teddy

    Things are really getting interesting.

  • Michael Wootton

    I just want them to announce the damn thing already! Enough with the rumors, if half of them turn out to be true my money is theirs!

  • Jack Shiels 123

    Fillrate issues mutely? Right now showing any alpha based objects on the iPad kill performance due to the low filtrate. imagine a 2048x1536 screen! Even a dual core sgx543 would still be a billion pixels behind the optimum amount of filling.

    I'm guessing that you will be able to choose a resolution to launch your apps in... Maybe something less insanely awesome :0

  • Cat Astrophy

    It's not going to be that "insane" with a touch only interface and an unwieldy size.

  • Revolutionary Concepts

    We have no insights into the accuracy of the rumors or the likelihood we'll see an iPad2 with a 2x screen come April, BUT we want to believe, and are already working on upping the resolution of at least one of our upcoming titles to support 2048 x 1536. 🙂

    *No we're not jumping the gun too much, basically it'd be the difference between this particular game scrolling OR fitting all on one super HD screen. Either way color me excited!

  • Setarrif

    ... I don't see how a retina display for iPad (which would be great in general by the way) can make it more an insane gaming machine!?
    More screen resolution means that you need everything else also bigger (memory, GPU power, battery, textures, meshes and... prices) but it doesn't mean ANYTHING like having a decent input device for games, such as a joypad, trigger buttons or whatever else would REALLY make it an insane gaming machine!

  • Anonymous

    I have to say this is a good idea, I have to admin This is probably a rumor. More info about iPhone:

  • JC

    Every dev knows that the IPad is very slow to render pixel. Simply draw 3 or 4 times the screen and the fillrate fall to its knees. Quadrupling the res will make this even worst (even with a brand new shiny GPU). What about battery life? I know it would be extremely cool to have such a resolution but for everything non-game related (like reading a book or surfing). But for gaming, I'm not sure this make sense. May be, dev will be able to select the res they want when coding for ipad2... Will see.

  • Fokion

    Hmm, yeah, but an "insane games machine" is not all about technology. What about control? Sure, touch is a great platform for menu based games, but that's it.

  • Geeksrulotgayorwhat

    shut up you bunch of dweebs ,stop. listen to yourselfs ,you all come across like wankers. just stfu!

  • E_Domina

    Just take the comparison of the 3GS and the iPhone 4. They're pretty much the same feature-wise (minus facetime for 3gs), but the power is pretty much equal so the gaming experience is the same.

  • Nasa

    For a ultimate gaming device i miss some gamecontrollers - please apple - DO IT. Actiongames with onscreen controlls - bäh.

  • poutini

    if anything, this is getting me pretty stoked for the 5th gen iPod Touch. that thing's going to kick ass if any of these rumors are true.

  • poutini

    if anything, this is getting me pretty stoked for the 5th gen iPod Touch. that thing's going to kick ass if any of these rumors are true.

  • Cell phone parts

    I don't see how a retina display for iPad (which would be great in general by the way) can make it more an insane gaming machine!?More screen resolution means that you need everything else also bigger (memory, GPU power, battery, textures, meshes and... prices) but it doesn't mean ANYTHING like having a decent input device for games, such as a joypad, trigger buttons or whatever else would REALLY make it an insane gaming machine!that was so true.