A12Z Bionic Chip in iPad Pro Allegedly a Renamed A12X With Extra GPU Core Enabled

Apple's new 2020 iPad Pro models are equipped with an A12Z Bionic processor that's remarkably similar to the A12X chip in the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, offering little in the way of performance improvements.

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The A12Z does, however, feature an 8-core GPU while the A12X includes a 7-core GPU, which sets them apart, but new evidence shared by NotebookCheck suggests that the A12Z Bionic is simply a renamed A12X chip with a latent GPU core enabled.

According to NotebookCheck, teardown site TechInsights confirmed that the 2018 A12X chip physically has 8 GPU cores and not the 7 GPU cores that Apple includes in tech specs. One of the cores of the A12X is disabled.

The A12X and the A12Z appear to be the same physical chip on the surface, with the same number of physical CPU and GPU cores rather, suggesting the A12Z is not a new design. AnandTech has also speculated that the A12Z is a re-binned variant of the A12X.

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.

In the future, TechInsights is planning to conduct a floorplan analysis to determine for certain whether there are any differences between the A12X and the A12Z in the new ‌iPad Pro‌ models.

NotebookCheck speculates that Apple is saving an updated chip design for future ‌iPad Pro‌ models, and there are indeed rumors of a second ‌iPad Pro‌ refresh this fall that could bring mini-LED displays and 5G connectivity.

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

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Top Rated Comments

fuchsdh Avatar
56 months ago
Apple could stop producing new chip designs for the next two years and they'd probably still be faster than the competition.

The hardware isn't the limiter for the iPad line right now. Software is.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ericinboston Avatar
56 months ago

Because there is a better CPU available?
No...because likely the poster was anticipating a faster/better chip that IS WORTH plunking down $1000 for a product that hasn't been refreshed in 2+ years. The chip could have had a very similar name AND had much better performance, faster MHz, more cores, or a combination of all 3. Instead, it's just 1 core that was magically enabled by Apple.

Regardless of how people can rationalize Apple's decision, this is a very shady step by Apple. This is a Pro unit which means most of the people evaluating an upgrade are going to look at the tech specs (and not to mention the hefty price tag). This marketing/advertising scam was caught very quickly and Apple should be ashamed and likely will have poor sales.

And someone said here that the "real excitement is the new keyboard in May." Seriously?! People wait 2+ years for an upgrade (on a "Pro" device no less) and a)there's essentially no hardware upgrade and b)I have to wait several more months after the launch for the "real excitement" which c)just turns out to be a bleeping keyboard that d)costs several hundred bucks?!

Wow.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PickUrPoison Avatar
56 months ago

No...because likely the poster was anticipating a faster/better chip that IS WORTH plunking down $1000 for a product that hasn't been refreshed in 2+ years. The chip could have had a very similar name AND had much better performance, faster MHz, more cores, or a combination of all 3. Instead, it's just 1 core that was magically enabled by Apple.

Regardless of how people can rationalize Apple's decision, this is a very shady step by Apple. This is a Pro unit which means most of the people evaluating an upgrade are going to look at the tech specs (and not to mention the hefty price tag). This marketing/advertising scam was caught very quickly and Apple should be ashamed and likely will have poor sales.

And someone said here that the "real excitement is the new keyboard in May." Seriously?! People wait 2+ years for an upgrade (on a "Pro" device no less) and a)there's essentially no hardware upgrade and b)I have to wait several more months after the launch for the "real excitement" which c)just turns out to be a bleeping keyboard that d)costs several hundred bucks?!

Wow.
The LiDAR scanner is the main feature of the update. If you have a 3rd gen and want the new sensor, you buy the 4th gen. If you don’t care about it, don’t. And its a better upgrade for 1st and 2nd gen owners than was the 3rd gen.

They also cut prices on upgrades, went from 4GB to 6GB of RAM and doubled the base storage. It’s a better model for the same or lower price.

Obviously, that’s worth complaining about to some ?

Wow.

PS.
a) it’s not 2+ years, it’s a year and 4+ months ?

b) no hardware upgrade?

* A12Z: GPU upgrade
* 64—>128GB Storage
* 4GB—>6GB RAM (128/256/512GB)
* single—>dual camera,
* LiDAR scanner
* Five “studio quality” microphones
* “Enhanced thermal architecture”
* WiFi 6
* U1 chip—ultra wideband

c) The new keyboard is real excitement for some, others couldn’t give a rat’s ass. If you don’t want or can’t afford it, the solution is simple: don’t buy it! Or buy the current keyboard. Or a third party keyboard. Or no keyboard. The choice is yours.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
56 months ago

This is why I cancelled my order. Not buying a 2 year old cpu...
Because there is a better CPU available?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
56 months ago
People complaining on here likely won't notice the difference in performance of a so called A13X/A14X chip and would most likely dump their iPad Pro long before they feel any slow downs due to software updates. SMH

It's more likely they improved yields to the point where all eight cores are functional when produced and therefore can enable it while the A12X likely had one core fail.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mannyvel Avatar
56 months ago
Recycling...it's better for the environment and for your pocketbook!

Apple's starting to have the same problem as Intel: why bother doubling performance every year if everything today is performant enough? The difference is that Apple got to that point in just a few generations.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)