What makes the new iPad tick: A peek inside

Inside the new iPad beats big graphics. Will that annihilate the competition?

New iPad
New iPad Apple

The new iPad isn't waltzing into a competitive vacuum. That wow-worthy display notwithstanding, Apple still has to go head-to-head on performance.

Chip-review site Anandtech confirmed with Apple that sitting right next to the A5X's quad-core GPU (graphics processing unit) is a dual-core CPU (central processing unit).

Apple had nothing to say about the CPU (which typically garners the most attention) when it announced the new iPad, because the CPU really hasn't changed from the iPad 2.

The upshot is that Apple is pitting the A5X's quad-core GPU against a quad-core Nvidia CPU.

So, how does it stack up against, for example, Nvidia's chip in the upcoming Asus Transformer Pad Infinity which boasts a 1920x1200 display? Anandtech tried to provide some answers.

Anandtech's take on Apple's A5X vs. the Tegra 3 chip in the Asus tablet:

  • A5X: Doubles GPU execution resources compared with the A5. Imagination Technologies' PowerVR SGX 543 GPU (which the A5X uses) can be expanded simply by increasing processor core count. So, 2x* the execution resources means 2x the performance of the A5.
  • A5X: Expect around a 2x performance gain over Tegra 3 in GLBenchmark (Egypt) at 720p. Not Apple's claimed 4x.
  • A5X: With the new iPad's Retina Display boasting 4x the pixels of the iPad 2, a 2x increase in GPU horsepower isn't enough to maintain performance. There may be some issues with resolution-intensive apps.
  • And the A5X's CPU? Speculating on why Apple did not choose a quad-core CPU: Many iOS apps still don't take advantage of even two cores.

*two times

Note that the iPad weighs more than the quad-core Transformer Pad Infinity (not to mention the iPad 2), is thicker, and has a much bigger battery.
Note that the iPad weighs more than the quad-core Transformer Pad Infinity (not to mention the iPad 2), is thicker, and has a much bigger battery. Anandtech

Updated at 8:45 p.m. PST: condensed bullet point discussion.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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