Apple A6 tipped ready for primetime (in iPad 3?) come Q2 2012

Apple's new A6 processor could be ready for public debut as early as Q2 2012, new reports suggest, with TSMC again tipped to be in trial production of the new ARM-based silicon. According to CENS' industry sources, the design of the Apple A6 is expected to be taped out in Q1 next year, using 28nm production processes and innovative 3D stacking construction. If the timescales are correct, the iPad 3 – which rumors suggest will use the A6 SoC – could arrive later in the year than the iPad 2 did, constrained by the production availability of the CPU.

It's not the first time we've heard that TSMC is involved in production trials with Apple. Back in July, the company was said to be testing its 28nm processes on the A6, with Apple basing its eventual order decisions on what yield the manufacturer could achieve. Acting is motivation for Apple is a reported – and understandable – desire to shift reliance away from Samsung, whose semiconductor arm currently is primarily responsible for the A4 and A5 chips inside the iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

According to these latest leaks, TSMC has seen its production lines freed up as orders from NVIDIA and Qualcomm are effected by an industry-wide depression, with stockpiled chips meaning production demands have shrunk. TSMC has declined to comment on the Apple speculation, though has said that it expects its order book to look healthier in Q4 as customer inventory dwindles.

Exact specifications of the Apple A6 are unclear, though 28nm chips from the manufacturer are being billed as providing 30-percent more power while cutting power consumption by around 50-percent. They're also expected to be cooler in operation.