If the next Apple TV set-top box was to feature Apple's A5X processor found in the third generation iPad, it would be "a low-volume production trial preceding its deployment in a much higher-volume product", that product being the Retina iPad mini, suggests a technology expert.
In addition, this version of the A5X chip is thought to have had a process-shrunk update. The new chip is the A5XR2, according to an AnandTech report.
The process-shrunk update is significant because the A5X chip is "huge, hot, power-inefficient, and too slow for CPU-bound operations," according to technology writer and Instapaper founder Marco Arment.
Arment wrote on his blog: "I couldn’t believe that Apple would use the iPad 3’s A5X in anything again since it was huge, hot, power-inefficient, and too slow for CPU-bound operations on Retina iPad pixel volume."
"The A5X has the bare minimum power required to drive a Retina iPad screen with reasonable GPU performance, it’s probably cheaper to produce than the A6X, and it’s slower than the higher-margin 10in iPads so many people will still buy them," he says.
However, he explains: "A process-shrunk A5X probably won’t contain faster CPUs, but it would be smaller, cooler, and more efficient."
Arment speculates that Apple's real motives for using this new version of the A5X chip in the Apple TV is as a trial before rolling it into a Retina version of the iPad mini. He writes: "It’s obvious, in retrospect, what this is probably for: the Retina iPad Mini."
Arment has previously suggested that the reason the first iPad mini didn't have a Retina display was down to performance and power concerns.