Apple's 2012 iPad has a dual-core A5X system-on-a-chip, not the quad-core A6 many expected. Bill Detwiler looks at what's likely inside the A5X SoC.
Last month, a photo was posted to the discussion forums on WeiPhone.com of what appeared to be the new 2012 iPad's motherboard. Next to a pair of Hynix H2DTDG8UD1MYR NAND flash chips was a package with the familiar Apple logo and the markings "A5X". Apple watchers and industry analysts were surprised by this development. Many expected the 2012 iPad to have a quad-core A6 system-on-a-chip (SoC).
In my article about the photo, I offered the following possibilities:
- It was a fake.
- The motherboard wasn't from an iPad.
- The motherboard was from an early iPad prototype.
- The image was authentic.
Well, Apple put the mystery to rest during today's event. The image appears to be authentic, and the new iPad will have the A5X.
Unfortunately, Apple's Phil Schiller didn't provide many details about the new SoC. During the event he said the A5X would offer "quad-core graphics" and provide four times the graphics performance of the NVIDIA Tegra 3 and twice the graphics performance of the iPad 2. Apple's iPad technical specifications page provides a bit more detail with the following description:
Dual-core Apple A5X custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip with quad-core graphics
Until someone gets their hands on the A5X or Apple releases more details on the package, its exact makeup will remain a mystery. Given that Apple isn't touting an increase in the A5X's raw processing power, just its graphics performance, I would guess that it contains a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU (like the A5) and a quad-core PowerVR SGX543MP4+ GPU (an upgrade from the iPad 2's PowerVR SGX543MP2).
Interestingly, the PlayStation Vita uses the same PowerVR SGX543MP+ GPU, but pairs it with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU.