Apple’s new 2020 iPad Pro is starting to arrive in the hands of those who ordered it last week and that means that we’re starting to learn more and more about it.
One of the interesting points from the announcement was the inclusion of a new Apple A12Z processor. We didn’t know much about it, but now we’re starting to learn a whole lot more.
According to a report by NotebookCheck, the A12Z and A12X processors are physically identical, although the older chip has one of the eight GPUs disabled. The new A12Z has all eight graphics cored enabled. The A12X? Just the seven.
That ultimately means that the two chips are the same if you boil it down far enough and it certainly explains why they both perform so similarly when benchmark results are compared.
There can be several speculative reasons as to why Apple chose to do this. It is not uncommon to see chip makers disabling physical cores and enabling them in higher SKUs. For instance, the NVIDIA Titan RTX has all 4,608 CUDA cores enabled while the RTX 2080 Ti offers only 4,352 cores despite both using the TU102 GPU.
The other likely explanation is that Apple’s decision to disable one GPU core in the A12X could have been deliberate. Enabling the latent core in an interim refresh like the A12Z would save them from having to develop an A13X and instead, directly focus on the (5 nm?) A14X that is slated to debut with the 5G iPad Pro later this year.
While many will see this as a “gotcha” moment for Apple, none of this is really new. It’s similar to the processor binning that CPU makers have been doing for years. In fact, binning is what’s allowed overclocking to be a thing – chips capable of running at one speed are sold as chips that are rated for a slower one.
The 2020 iPad Pro clearly isn’t one that people with functioning 2018 models should upgrade to regardless of this news. Unless that fancy LiDAR Scanner is something you’re particularly excited about.
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