Now that the iPad has been out and tested for a few days, developers have a much better idea of what's exactly under that perfectly-formed hood. Turns out the A4 processor is modeled on the Cortex A8, a fact which was not only expected, but gives a little extra credence to the theory that chipmaker Intrinsity (who are behind the A8) was recently purchased by Apple. Elsewhere on the iPad, you can find the same PowerVR SGX 535 GPU and 256MB RAM that can be seen in the iPhone 3GS.
But apparently the whole is better than the parts -- our buddy Craig Hockenberry sat down last weekend and did some serious benchmarking, and found that the iPad is actually many times faster than the iPhone 3GS at all sorts of tasks. As Craig said, this is doubly remarkable when you think about it: not only did they get these kinds of speed improvements in just a matter of years, but they've increased the battery life as well. Apple's purchase of PA Semi (and possibly Intrinsity) and their commitment to make their own chips has paid off in spades already.
In other words, the hardware tells us what we already knew about the iPad: it's a beautiful and amazing device. And since there is so much shared hardware, it'll be interesting to see what kinds of speeds we get out of the next version of the iPhone. Lots of these changes and updates in the hardware seem directly transferable right back there.