Qualcomm issued a press release yesterday announcing the commercial availability of 4G LTE Gobi 4000 chip which could provide LTE support for the next iPad.
Currently Apple uses Qualcomm’s Gobi chips in every iOS device since the release of the 3G Verizon iPhone 4 except for the AT&T iPad. It uses an older Infineon chip. The new Gobi 4000 chips will be compatible with all 4G LTE and HSPA+ devices including the iPad 3, if Apple chooses to use the chip.
The Gobi 4000 platform allows customers to offer both LTE/HSPA+ and LTE/EV-DO designs to meet the growing demand for embedded 3G/4G connectivity in mobile devices worldwide… System designers now have the flexibility to choose an embedded Gobi 4000 platform for high-speed 4G LTE support, or an embedded Gobi 3000 platform for worldwide 3G connectivity. — Gobi Press Release
Apple is likely waiting for the MDM9615 chip announced by Qualcomm in February. This chip is based on a 28nm production process allowing it to use less power and actually one less chip. Still, reports of LTE iPads being field tested continue to pop up. If Apple does indeed go with the Gobi 4000 for the iPad 3 it will mean only Sprint’s 4G WiMax network will get left out of the 4G mix.
My bet is Apple implements the Gobi 3000 for worldwide 3G support.