Why the iPad Pro’s Apple A9X processor is so fast

“There’s little doubt that the A9X processor in the iPad Pro is quick — in a few cases, it rivals the performance you’d get from a laptop,” Jon Fingas writes for Engadget.

“But why is it so quick, especially when Apple tends to shy away from high clock speeds, many-core processors and other conventional performance tricks?” Fingas writes. “Thanks to AnandTech and Chipworks, we now have a good idea.”

“It has a monstrous amount of bandwidth (51GB per second) and a whopping 12 graphics cores,” Fingas writes. “That’s twice as many as in the iPhone 6s’ A9 chip, folks.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Chipworks’ analysis shows that the A9X is roughly 147mm2 in die size, and that it’s manufactured by TSMC on their 16nm FinFET process,” Ryan Smith reports for AnandTech. “It’s also worth noting just how large A9X is compared to other high performance processors. Intel’s latest-generation Skylake processors measure in at ~99mm2 for the 2 core GT2 configuration (Skylake-Y 2+2), and even the 4 core desktop GT2 configuration (Intel Skylake-K 4+2) is only 122mm2. So A9X is larger than either of these CPU cores, though admittedly as a whole SoC A9X contains a number of functional units either not present on Skylake or on Skylake’s Platform Controller Hub (PCH). Still, this is the first time that we’ve seen an Apple launch a tablet SoC larger than an Intel 4 core desktop CPU.”

“The use of a 12 core design is a bit surprising since it means that Apple was willing to take the die space hit to implement additional GPU cores, despite the impact this would have on chip yields and costs. If anything, with the larger thermal capacity and battery of the iPad Pro, I had expected Apple to use higher GPU clockspeeds (and eat the power cost) in order to save on chip costs. Instead what we’re seeing is a GPU that essentially offers twice the GPU power of A9’s GPU.,” Smith reports. “The memory controller of the A9X is a 128-bit LPDDR4 configuration. With twice as many GPU cores, Apple needs twice as much memory bandwidth to maintain the same bandwidth-to-core ratio, so like the past X-series tablet SoCs, A9X implements a 128-bit bus. For Apple this means they now have a sizable 51.2GB/sec of memory bandwidth to play with. For a SoC this is a huge amount of bandwidth…”

Tons more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s A9X is a beast.

SEE ALSO:
How much does Apple’s powerful A9X chip cost to make? – December 2, 2015
Inside Apple’s powerful A9X chip – November 27, 2015
Analyst: Apple’s iPad Pro and its powerful A9X CPU pose threat to Intel – November 12, 2015
Apple’s A9X-powered iPad Pro offers Mac-like speed – November 11, 2015
Apple’s new iPad Pro is faster and more affordable than beleaguered Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 – November 12, 2015

4 Comments

  1. Finally someone is designing chips with real world function in mind with no quick cheap fixes. Intel deserves a good run for it’s money. Competition is good.

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