Apple iPad 2's A5 Processor Aims to Blunt Motorola Xoom's Dual-Core

Apple's iPad 2 features a new proprietary A5 processor, which analysts see as Apple's attempt to blunt competitive momentum of rival's dual-core processors.

Apple's new proprietary processor for the iPad 2, the A5, could ratchet up the microprocessor competition partially kicked off by its A4 chip.

That's the estimation of one analyst firm, IHS iSuppli, which is suggesting that the new chip will certainly help the iPad 2 match the competitive threat offered by Motorola's 10.1-inch Xoom tablet, which comes equipped with a dual-core processor.

"In the new design paradigm of smartphones and tablets, computing efficiency trumps raw computing power," Wayne Lam, a senior analyst at IHS iSuppli, wrote in a March 2 research note. "Designs like the iPad demand highly integrated microprocessors that emphasize graphics performance, lower power consumption and small space usage."

Apple claims the A5 will offer radically faster performance than the A4, present in not only the iPad, but also the iPhone 4, Apple TV and iPod Touch.

Other analysts seemed pleased with the iPad 2's rollout. "Given the increased competition in the tablet market and the growing importance of the iPad to Apple's future growth prospects, yesterday was a crucial product launch event for Apple," Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, wrote in a March 3 research note, "and the day could not have gone better, in our view."

White cited the iPad 2's quick rollout schedule-the tablet is slated to hit store shelves March 11-and upgraded features as chief reasons for why he believes the iPad 2 will build on its predecessor's momentum. The appearance of Apple CEO Steve Jobs was rated a big thumbs-up.

"In light of growing market concerns surrounding Steve Jobs' health, his presence at the launch and animated delivery of the iPad 2 were a pleasant surprise," he wrote.

Apple formally announced the iPad 2 in a March 2 event in San Francisco, ending months of speculation over how the company would advance its popular tablet franchise. Jobs stepped onstage, breaking his own self-imposed hiatus from Apple for undisclosed health reasons, in order to introduce his company's great touch-screen hope to the world. "I didn't want to miss it," he told the audience.

In addition to a dual-core processor, the 9.7-inch iPad 2 includes a built-in gyroscope, front- and rear-facing cameras and a thinner body. Apple intends to sell this latest iteration at the same price-points as the original iPad.

In keeping with his combative stance toward other competitors in the tablet space, Jobs took some swipes at the Motorola Xoom, which retails for $799. Citing the prices for the various models of the iPad 2, he said: "Five of these six models are less expensive than $799. We only have one model that's more expensive than $799."

Ultimately, however, Apple seems to be betting that the iPad 2's increased speed and tweaked software will give it the proverbial leg up in the fight against Android-based tablets. Google Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb, has been optimized for the tablet form-factor.