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Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 09:55 pm PT (12:55 am ET)

Rumor: Apple to unveil 8GB iPad 2 alongside 'iPad 3' on March 7

Supply chain sources are claiming Apple will unveil a cheaper 8GB iPad 2 model alongside third-generation iPad models at its media event next week.

Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes reported on Thursday that, according to sources within Apple's "upstream supply chain," the iPad maker will release the smaller capacity iPad 2 in order to cover a wider price range within the tablet market and fight off threats from upcoming Windows 8-based tablets.

Apple is also facing price pressure from below, as Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire tablet has attracted millions of customers. The company has, in the past, released lower capacity versions of its iPhone

Thursday's report was unclear, though, as it said Apple would release just two "iPad 3" sizes: a 16GB and 32GB version, without explaining if and why the company would abandon its current high-capacity 64GB iPad model.

The publication also claimed that Apple has been "aggressively placing orders" for the third-generation iPad, with first quarter shipments expected to double original estimates.

Apple confirmed on Tuesday via invitation earlier reports that had pegged March 7 as the date of the unveiling of the next-generation iPad. The event will take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif., the site of the past two iPad releases.

The third-generation iPad is widely believed to include a Retina Display with a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch. Other expected upgrades include an improved camera, faster processor, and possibly 4G LTE data speeds.

iPad 3

Apple's March 7 event invitation, via The Loop.