2018 iPad Pro Rumored to Feature Octa-Core A11X with Neural Engine

A rumor that Apple will beef up the processing power on its devices next year shouldn’t come as a surprise. But, according to supply chain reports, that might include an upgraded A11 system-on-a-chip with two additional cores.

According to Taiwanese supply chain sources cited by MyDrivers, Apple is set to debut an A11X chipset in next year’s iPad Pro models. The A11X would add two additional processing cores to Apple’s next generation chip, bringing to the total from six to eight.

Of those eight cores, three of said to be high-performance cores internally dubbed “Monsoon,” but the remaining five would be energy-efficient cores called “Mistral,” according to the Chinese language online publication.

In addition to extra processing cores, the A11X would be produced with a new 7-nanometer manufacturing process developed by Apple supplier and chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). For comparison, the current-generation A11 Bionic is created with a 10-nanometer process. While this is a bit of an oversimplification of the production process, in general, a smaller nanometer fabrication process will result in chips that are more powerful and more power-efficient.

It’s also worth noting, at this point, that supply chain rumors seem to indicate that Apple has tapped Samsung to be the sole producer of next-generation A12 chips for the 2018 iPhone lineup. While it’s still early, rumor has it that that chipset will also be made with a 7-nm process.

2018 iPad Pro

As far as everything else we know about Apple’s next generation of iPad Pros, we’re already hearing quite a bit. For one, Apple will likely release successors to both its 12.9-inch and its newer 10.5-inch models. Apple is also expected to nix the Home button on the new tablets and replace fingerprint authentication with Face ID. Of course, this would mean that the rumored A11X chipset would also include a neural engine like the A11 Bionic does.

One thing that won’t change: the display. Because OLED panels are still incredibly costly, Apple is rumored to stick to LCD displays for its 2018 iPad lineup. But, without the Home button, analysts predict that Apple will adopt a new design with significantly reduced bezels — which could allow for thinner and lighter tablets.

Still, because of the lack of an OLED display, we shouldn’t expect a true edge-to-edge display akin to the iPhone X for next year’s iPad Pros. It’s much more likely that Apple will retain some bezel around the device, particularly near the top, to house the TrueDepth Camera system for Face ID. And yes, that means there probably won’t be a distinct and outstanding “notch” on the new iPad Pros. Instead, the sensor housing could be flush with the slim bezel surrounding the display, as you can see in our 2018 iPad Pro concept images.

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