Apple’s iPad 2 Makes Dual-Core Mainstream

Apple’s iPad 2 (s aapl) contains the Apple-designed A5 application processor, which is running two cores. Onstage, Apple’s Steve Jobs indicated it was the first dual-core chip shipping at volume, but the folks at Nvidia (S nvda) might disagree, given its dual-core Tegra 2 is out in a few handsets already as well as the Xoom tablet, which until the iPad launches on March 11, sets the standard for volume. Meanwhile, Qualcomm (s qcom) has a dual-core version of its Snapdragon chip set to come out in the HP TouchPad later this year and a spokesperson emailed me to say that “Qualcomm has over 60 dual core designs in the pipeline with 20+ companies focused on tablet designs.”

But in true Apple fashion, the shine associated with the dual-core A5 chip on the iPad 2, (seriously you can edit movies on that thing!) will bring home to the rest of the market why dual-core chips are necessary. We said long ago 2011 would be the year of dual-core phones, and indeed, it’s shaping up to be. Apple’s decision to jump in with a dual-core application processor on the tablet will just help evangelize the boost in performance to the masses. And it’s widely expected that the next generation iPhone will also use the same dual-core chip when it presumably arrives this summer.

Apple will also help dispel the myth that dual cores means half the battery life, since the next-generation iPad has the same 10-hour battery life. Which is good, because already, Marvell (s mrvl), Qualcomm, Nvidia and others have announced quad-core ARM-based cores for inside tablets and other devices with parts sampling as soon as this year. So while 2011 may be the year for dual-core, it appears that quad-core isn’t far behind.

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