A5X Chip Floorplan Reveals Significant Space Required for Quad-Core Graphics

Earlier today, we pointed to some teardown tidbits from Chipworks regarding the new iPad, including the observation that the A5X system-on-a-chip is being manufactured by Samsung and is using the same 45-nm process used for the A5 package in earlier devices. Also noted was a significant increase of about 36% in the area of the A5X compared to the A5.

a5x floor plan
UBM TechInsights has now started stripping down the A5X, revealing the floorplan for the package. Among the notable observations is the amount of area taken up by the quad-core graphics found in the A5X, a significant boost from the dual-core graphics found in the A5.

What should be noted is that the processor cores from ARM are identical in look but the extra real estate on the processors (the A5 measures at approx. 120 mm^2 vs. the A5X which measures at 163 mm^2) is accounted for by the the PowerVR SGX543MP4 GPU cores, of which they are paired in groups of two and then symmetrically opposed to each other.

By our calculations, the graphics cores take up roughly 25% of the A5X's surface area alone, compared to just 10% for the ARM cores that make up the application processor. The floorplan also reveals a number of other enhancements for the A5X, including additional DDR interfaces and architecture to support the boost in graphics horsepower.

Related Roundup: iPad
Buyer's Guide: iPad (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

cxny Avatar
117 months ago
that looks like a good sized apartment in NYC
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dashiel Avatar
117 months ago
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the iOS system libraries have access to OpenCL which uses the GPU to offload certain processes, so a quad-core GPU is a much bigger deal than just rendering 3D graphics and powering the retina display.

As has been stated ad naseum, Apple’s ability to get the industrial designers, interface designers, cpu & gpu engineers and software people all in the same room to hash out problems is going to produce real world advantages that belie specs and confound competitors. Nerds will moan, no one else will.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Truffy Avatar
117 months ago
double the pixel amount
Isn't it 4x pixel count, based on double the resolution in two dimensions?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smiddlehurst Avatar
117 months ago
Someone in the AnandTech comments mentioned the A5X die is about the same size as the upcoming 22nm quad core Ivy Bridge processors. If this isn't evidence that Apple messed up by using a 45nm process (vs. waiting 2 months and moving to 32nm), I don't know what is.

Except that it's not 2 months is it? Apple have been making iPad's since the first week of January to have enough ready to ship in mid-March. Even assuming that a 32nm process works and can produce the vast amount of chips required right out of the gate you'd be looking at delaying the launch until, what, July at the earliest? Longer if you assume parts were being made before that assembly time.

And for what? No, really, what benefit does Apple get by doing that? A15 and PowerVR Series 6 wouldn't really be ready by then so the only benefit may be to go to a quad core A9 which a) would bring questionable benefits to the iPad anyway (how many apps really NEED quad core CPU's?) and b) would still get spanked by the A15 designs which would then have been only a few months away from launching. The third gen iPad is hardly a slouch and feels just as quick in day to day use as the iPad 2. No-one outside of spec geeks cares about the CPU and all Apple would have done is hand the advantage to Android as someone, most likely Asus or Samsung, would have got a high def screen out the door before Apple shipped the new iPad.

Don't get me wrong, more power is always nice but right now it's hard to see what Apple could have done differently. The roadmap is pretty clear right now: the fourth gen iPad will see an A6 based on the next gen architecture and probably receive a big ol' speed boost as a result. The iPhone 6 will certainly get the A6 as well. The one that's still an unknown right now is iPhone 5 but I wouldn't be surprised to see that get an A5 variant on 32nm as they're still going to be close to the wire to get Cortex A15 CPU's out in volume by late summer.

Sorry but when you're talking about using utterly unproven technology the moment it's available for a mass market product like the iPad, well, that seems like a massive and unnecessary risk to me.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hellhammer Avatar
117 months ago
Someone in the AnandTech comments mentioned the A5X die is about the same size as the upcoming 22nm quad core Ivy Bridge processors. If this isn't evidence that Apple messed up by using a 45nm process (vs. waiting 2 months and moving to 32nm), I don't know what is.

What exactly is the problem with big die then? The actual device isn't any bigger because of that and the battery life is the same too (according to Apple, at least). You are making a big deal out of nothing.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Fraaaa Avatar
117 months ago
Red over Green!? Really!?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
PIA23764 RoverNamePlateonMars web

NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Uses Same PowerPC Chipset Found in 1998 G3 iMac

Tuesday March 2, 2021 3:21 am PST by
NASA's Perseverance rover, which recently made history landing on the surface of Mars, is powered by the same processor used in an iMac more than 23 years old. Image Credit: NASA As reported by NewScientist (via Gizmodo), the rover includes the PowerPC 750 processor, the same chip used in the G3 iMac in 1998. The main chipset is the same; however, there are differences between the...
magsafe charging brick feature

Prosser: iPhone 12 MagSafe Battery Pack to Feature Reverse Charging

Monday March 1, 2021 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is working on MagSafe-compatible battery packs that will be compatible with the iPhone 12 models, and leaker Jon Prosser today said on the Genius Bar podcast that one version of the battery pack will feature "reverse charging." According to Prosser, Apple is working on two versions of the battery packs, one that's a standard version and one that's a premium version with reverse...
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...