While I don’t profess to know as much about this major Apple product line revision as I did in the previous instance where NVIDIA invaded the entire mobile product line, what I DO know this time might be just as interesting.  After checking with quite a few sources I can say without a doubt that the upcoming Apple tablet device being announced on Wednesday will not have any version of the NVIDIA Tegra product powering it. 

Late last year and during CES, rumors were circling that NVIDIA could have another big win on its hands powering the “uber-gizmo” that will be the Apple holy-grail tablet but that is obviously no longer the case. 

What will make the Apple tablet special? Not NVIDIA Tegra. - Mobile 4
The image that had many people wondering, then not, then wondering again.

Of course it didn’t hurt NVIDIA’s case (or its stock) that there were quite a few tablet devices shown in the first week of January at CES that were in fact Tegra powered.  I even demonstrated one on TWiT Live with Leo Laporte on This Week in Computer Hardware – the very one pictured below: 

What will make the Apple tablet special? Not NVIDIA Tegra. - Mobile 5

If you haven’t already about Tegra or the upcoming changes to the architecture and what it could possibly mean to the world of mobile computing, you should definitely do so:
Jokes aside, back to the question at hand: if not NVIDIA Tegra, then what?  One answer could be the Intel Atom platform but I highly doubt Apple would choose to go with a platform that is so under-powered for its chosen design: in terms of x86 processing, the Atom is about as low as it goes.  That leaves either an ARM partner like Broadcom or using the in-house resources Apple purchased with PA Semiconductor in April of 2008.  While either would work it seems more likely that Apple would have finally found a use for the PA Semi PWRficient processor or some new derivative thereof; it provides more power than the CPU in the iPhone for the larger screen, higher resolution and more complex user interface. 

What will make the Apple tablet special? Not NVIDIA Tegra. - Mobile 6

If this is indeed the case, it provides an interesting application note: the Apple tablet will very likely not be a “Mac without a keyboard” as some are speculating.  Without an x86 processor such a system would not be able to easily run programs and applications available on Mac OS X today and thus we will very like see a system using an iPhone-like OS or something completely new from the company.