Apple’s tablet may be powered by a PA Semi chip, claims Jason O’Grady, noting Intel’s May 2008 blunder when it claimed a larger version iPhone would eventually ship using an Intel Atom chip.

Intel later retracted the statement, issuing an apology in which it implied Atom wasn’t suitable for Apple because it was unable to match ARM’s low power demands.

O’Grady also believes Intel’s statements then hinted the firm would not be providing the chip for Apple’s tablet, which he sees as likely to ship with an ARM processor, “and eventually a new custom ARM chip from PA Semi”.

Development of that custom chip may be further along than he thinks. The Taiwan Economic News last month said the Apple tablet would use a PA Semi chip. And the company is aiming to sell 300,000 of the devices each month on launch in February.

ARM in September announced its new 2GHz, dual-core chip, a version of its Cortex-A9 architecture. This followed a December 2008 Computerworld article by our own Seth Weintraub, which predicts Apple’s tablet will be based on ARM’s Cortex architecture.

Earlier this year we also learned that PA Semi’s team was split into two parts following the Apple take-over of the company, one team designing portable ARM-based processors for iPhones and iPods, and another designing a processor for the tablet device.

Speculation as to all this is likely to continue in the months to come, with the New York Times this morning telling us Apple has had teams working on the device since 2003.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is understood to have pulled several prototypes off the agenda, partially because he couldn’t see what the tablet’s raison d’etre would be.

Today we can speculate the tablet will be a device which summons all Apple’s multimedia principalities into one place, capable of driving multimedia experiences on a par with iTunes Extras, shipping with a plethora of eBooks, and more. As well as interesting two-handed gesture/touch-based controls.

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