Rumor: Leaked photo shows Apple

Adding to the ever-growing iPad 3 rumor mill, a new photo has surfaced on the WeiPhone forums showing a system-on-a-chip nestled onto a prototype logic board, carrying a previously unheard of "A5X". The A5X chip also includes a date code of "1146", which would peg production at or around November 14th-20th of 2011.

This could mean a) the iPad 3 will have an updated variant of the Apple A5 chipset rather than an Apple A6 chipset as previously speculated; or b) this specific prototype was being tested on a variant of the A5 while work was still in progress on the Apple A6.

The A5X chip is model #S5L8945X, which matches an iBoot log reported by BGR a couple weeks ago, and would indicate a less dramatic update than than the previous 30X to 4X jump between the original iPad and iPad 2. If the A5X ships with the iPad 3, it could mean Apple is sticking with the original dual-core architecture of the A5-powered iPad 2 rather than going to a quad-core architecture, as previously rumored. This wouldn't overly affect speed and power, as an A5X would likely be faster and incorporate a newer graphics chip as well, but it could reduce flexibility and the number of complex tasks the iPad 3 could do at once.

We won't know the broad strokes for certain until Apple makes an official announcement, likely on March 7th. We also won't know the details until after Apple delivers the iPad 3 to customers, the date of which is still up in the air. Then the teardown companies will get at it and give us a more detailed look.

In addition to a new chipset, the iPad 3 is expected to include a high-resolution 2048×1536 Retina display, possible 4G LTE network support, and a higher quality 8 megapixel camera and slightly adjusted tapered casing.

Source: WeiPhone via MacRumors