Apple will launch its next-generation iPad, the iPad 3, in Feburary 2012, according to one Citi analyst. Citing several sources close to the situation, Richard Gardner believes Apple's next iPad will feature a screen double the resolution of the current model.

There do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining, Gardner said.

Gardner's report is in line with several others that have come out in recent months, including one that predicted the iPad 3's display resolution to double the pixel density of the iPad 2. That report believed the iPad 3's display would be somewhere in the ballpark of 2048 x 1536 pixels.

The larger resolution should provide the company's app developers more convenience, while all future applications will be able to run under any of Apple's machines including the 27-inch iMac, the report said.

The code for the reported iPad 3 was discovered in November, when Apple began seeding a beta version of iOS 5.1 to developers. Hidden within the code were references to a next generation iPhone and two next-gen iPads, internally named iPhone 5,1, iPad 2,4 and iPad 3,3, respectively. Analysts believe the iPad listed as iPad 2,4 is not a new iPad, but rather an upgraded iPad 2 with WiMAX functionality, possibly powered by Sprint. The iPad 3,3 is likely a completely new device.

The company's Taiwanese supply chain says Apple is dissatisfied with the single LED backlight bar designed for the iPad 2's 1024 x 768 resolution display, and hope to alter this feature in the iPad 3. Several vendors have pitched alternative solutions to the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, including a design that looks just like the singular LED bar but features two LED chips inside.

Apple, however, is reportedly leaning towards another option, which involves dual-LED light bars inside the iPad 3, one on the left and one on the right. The supply chain says Apple is very interested in this option, now that the manufacturers of LED back-light units have reportedly solved several puzzles involving heat dissipation and battery consumption. These LED issues had reportedly affected the launch schedule of the iPad 3.

Apple has been receiving tablet components at its overseas facilities since the end of October. Sources close to those supply chains believe Apple will pre-constructing about two million new iPad 3's by the end of December.

Apple's next iPad will also reportedly feature a faster quad-core A6 processor based on nanometer processing technology, as well as a smaller, redesigned dock connector so the tablet manufacturers can cut down on the device's overall thickness. The iPad 3 will also reportedly feature a battery pack that is thinner, lighter and lasts longer than the battery of the iPad 2.

The overall design of the iPad 3 is still widely unknown. As of last week, sources from within Apple's supply chain say the company had yet to sign off on a final design, but Apple has reportedly developed two next-generation designs, codenamed J1 and J2, which each feature slightly different specifications, sizes and technologies. One report has called the J2 model a more ambitious upgrade from the iPad 2 compared to the J1, but Apple is likely to make the final decision on which design to mass produce by early next year.

Apple sold 32.1 million iPads in the fiscal year ended Sept. 24. Gardner believes the company will sell an additional 12 to 13 million iPads in the December quarter.