The iPad 3's A6 Processor to be Dual-Core?

TheVerge's Joshua Topolsky summarizes the iPad 3 casing findings reported earlier today, but also adds his own sources regarding some details of the iPad 3.


Image from RepairLabs

As expected, the iPad 3 will reportedly include a 2048x1536 Retina Display, be nearly identical physically, and use the A6 processor. The A6 processor, however, is claimed to have a dual-core chip, not a quad-core one, at least according to his sources:
What is surprising, however, is that our sources say that the A6 will not be a quad-core chip, but will remain dual-core. We've previously had heard that the device would have a quad-core CPU as well as an LTE cell radio on-board, but at least part of that story wasn't accurate.
Previous rumors for the iPad 3 have claimed that the A6 processor would include a Quad-Core processor. iOS 5.1 also showed some early evidence of code-support for quad-core processing.

While a dual-core A6 is certainly possible, Topolsky's iOS device sources haven't had the greatest track record. In early 2011, his sources claimed that the iPad 2 would include a "super high resolution display" as well as an SD card slot, and a "completely redesigned" iPhone 5 to come in summer 2011. Topolsky did backtrack on those predictions, but not until the week before the iPad 2's launch.

Topolsky was also the original source of the the tapered iPhone 5 design and elongated home button. While we do believe that design was based in reality, it's hard to ignore that it never came to be.

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98 months ago

Quad cores are pretty likely on the retina versions. Got to bump the CPU power by 4x to match the resolution gain well, and you can't do that all in mhz.


This is one of the most uninformed posts I have ever read....
Rating: 20 Votes
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98 months ago
I'd rather see two faster cores than four slower cores.

On a device with a single-app-at-a-time UI, just how many cores can the OS put to work? Even OSX on the desktop has trouble finding work for a lot of cores to do most of the time (outside of very specialist tasks like video compression).

CPU design will always be a compromise, and it may be that the compromises needed to get to four cores aren't borne out by a worthwhile increase in speed. Are that many cores used on Android, or is it mainly a marketing gimmic?
Rating: 13 Votes
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98 months ago

Quad cores are pretty likely on the retina versions. Got to bump the CPU power by 4x to match the resolution gain well, and you can't do that all in mhz.


CPU has a much, much smaller role in driving the display compared to the GPU. PC games have only recently strongly favored quad core CPUs, and iPad tasks are nowhere near that.

Think of the CPU as the architect and the GPU as the builders. It takes a lot less time and effort to design than it does to build.


Please, no hyper threading. Please god, no.


Hyper threading is a trademarked Intel implementation of simultaneous multi-threading. They are the only ones who do it to the point where you have extra cores appearing to the OS. No one else can use intel's patented, trademarked method.

However, multiple issue CPUs with multiple data paths are a staple of modern CPUs and a good thing.
Rating: 7 Votes
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98 months ago
I want quad-core. As a tech nerd, I care about specs and bullet lists!

As a user, I want performance and results. I won’t care much how it’s achieved. Double the cores does NOT double performance. There are diminishing returns. Number of cores is one tiny slice of the performance equation. The design of each core, and of the OS, are far more important speed factors. They just don’t sound as nice for bragging to the other kids!

Not that I believe any rumors at this point anyway... but if dual-core means lower battery drain or lower cost, or if the extra cores just don’t add that much real-world performance gain, and if the iPad 3 and iOS are able to deliver great performance from two cores, I will be happy. If I can have all that AND enjoy the sound of the phrase “quad core,” that will be nice too! :)
Rating: 6 Votes
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98 months ago
If the A6 uses ARM Cortex A15 architecture, it will be significantly faster than the A5 even with the same clock speed and number of cores.

Also, the retina display doesn't require more cpu power, maybe just more GPU cores and memory.

The most interesting new ARM technology is combining Cortex A7 and A15 cores on the same chip and transparently switching between them. The Cortex A7 is very energy efficient and the Cortex A15 is very powerful, so that would bring both performance and better battery life. I'm just not sure if this architecture can be implemented yet.
Rating: 5 Votes
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98 months ago
The sky is falling!!! :eek:
Rating: 5 Votes
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98 months ago

A Dual core? Oh no!

I am seriously worried that the dual cores won't pack enough juice to handle the retina display's higher resolution games.

My retina displayed iPhone 4 can't handle Modern Combat 3 or even Black Ops zombies because Apple just used the same old GPU in the 3GS to power twice as many pixels!*

Not happy.


You are getting bought into the core myth much like the mhz myth of the past.
As others point out the CPU does not play as large of a role in driving the screen as the gpu does.

Sadly the marketers got people believing more cores is better like higher clock rate and that is not always the case.
Rating: 5 Votes
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98 months ago
That may actually be a good thing.

There are only two sensible options for Apple to seriously bump the CPU processing power in the next gen chip: either the quad-core chip based on Cortex A9 or a dual-core chip based on Cortex A15. From what the makers have been promising, the dual-core Cortex A15 would actually be more powerful than the quad-core Cortex A9.
Rating: 4 Votes
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98 months ago



Damn Arn. Coming down pretty harsh on Topolsky, eh?


Wasn't trying to be harsh.

This was harsh:

http://daringfireball.net/2011/02/eleventh_hour

If I had sources who fed me a load of ********* a month ago, I’d be apologizing to my readers, not doubling down on those sources as “dead right”.

Rating: 4 Votes
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98 months ago

Errr... nope. If you look carefully, you will see (http://www.chipworks.com/media/wpmu/uploads/blogs.dir/2/files/2011/03/APL0498_APL0498E01_Backside.jpg) that all calculations (except some specifics like earSmart, WiFi, memory controler, etc) go through one of the 2 cores. No "GPU" there. Virtually, yes, they exist and if you compare graphics, you compare that speed. In these kind of mobile devices though it is done by the CPU cores. If you think a set of commands is a seperate processing unit, fine. But since the "processing" is done by the CPU, there is only a "G" and a "U" left from the GPU. :cool:

Also: The RAM is not on-die. It is the Toshiba DRAM Y890A111222KA - seperate chip. Look at the teardowns (http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPad-2-3G-GSM-CDMA-Teardown/5127/1).


The GPU isn't labeled because whoever wrote in the labels didn't know.
I believe it's likely to be one or two of the four blocks on the right; either the one underneath the "I/O" text, the one marked "Digital Logic Blocks" or the two immediately underneath the two I just mentioned. Most likely the larger one south of the one under the "I/O" text.

GPU functionality is definitely not done by the CPU datapath. I don't know where you got that idea, but you're just simply wrong.
Rating: 3 Votes
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