A12Z vs. A12X: What's Changed?

Apple in March 2020 introduced new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models with A12Z processors, LiDAR scanners, dual-lens camera setups, upgraded storage tiers, and more RAM for lower storage models.

a12z bionic clean
In this guide, we'll cover the A12Z processor and how it compares to the A12X processor that Apple used in the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models.

A12Z Instead of A13X?

Prior to now, most iPad updates, including ‌iPad Pro‌ refreshes, have come with new generations of chips. The original 12.9- and 9.7-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ models had an A9X, the second-generation 10.5- and 12.9-inch models had an A10X Fusion chip, and the third-generation 11- and 12.9-inch models used the A12X Bionic.

This is the first time that an ‌iPad Pro‌ refresh has had a chip update is iterative rather than a new design, with the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ using an A12Z and not an A13X or A14 chip as might be expected.

What's Changed in the A12Z?

Apple in its marketing materials made no references to any CPU performance improvements compared to prior-generation models as it often does when introducing chip upgrades. Instead, Apple said that the ‌iPad Pro‌ is "faster and more powerful" than most Windows laptops, which is the same thing that it said about the 2018 models.

ipadprobox
Apple did, however, highlight the 8-core GPU, which is the only notable upgrade in the A12Z compared to the A12X, which has been advertised as having a 7-core GPU even though it may in fact be an 8-core GPU chip with one core disabled.

The new chip also features an enhanced thermal architecture presumably for handling the full 8-core GPU and tuned performance controllers.

Apple's own language suggests little change to processor performance, which has been reflected in benchmarking tests.

A12Z vs. A12X Performance

Early benchmarks of the new iPad Pro with A12Z chip demonstrate little improvement over the prior-generation ‌iPad Pro‌ with A12X chip.

In a Geekbench 5 test, the new 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ earned a single-core score of 1114 and a multi-core score of 4654, compared to the 1113 single-core and 4608 multi-core of the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌. With variations in testing taken into account, the performance is about identical.

ipadpro2020geekbench
In Metal scores, though, which measures GPU performance, the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ saw some improvements over the 2018 model, which is no surprise given the extra GPU core. The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ earned a 9894 Metal score, up from the 9020 score in the 11-inch ‌‌iPad Pro‌‌ from 2018.

Is the A12Z a Renamed A12X Chip?

Given the similarities in performance and the minor letter tweak in the A12Z vs. the A12X, it appears the new chip is a re-binned version of the A12X with an extra GPU core enabled.

Evidence from teardown site TechInsights indicates that the A12X chip physically has an 8-core GPU with one of the cores disabled, which means the A12Z is the same version of the chip with the disabled core enabled.

It's not unusual for chip manufacturers to render one core of a processor inoperable when it isn't meeting yield levels, and that appears to be what Apple has done now. The manufacturing of the A12X chip has improved enough that yields have gotten better and all 8 cores are functional.

Upgrading From 2018 iPad Pro to 2020 iPad Pro

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ is a marginal upgrade compared to the 2018 model, but it's still faster than some notebook Macs and many notebook PCs, as the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ was blazing fast.

With no major changes to performance, the new LiDAR Scanner, upgraded RAM in lower-tier storage models (now 6GB across the board) and the new ultra wide-angle camera are the main new features in the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ model, which, for most 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ owners, are not going to be a significant enough changes to warrant an upgrade.

2020 ipad pro camera lidar
As of right now, there are few apps able to take advantage of the LiDAR Scanner so while it may become increasingly appealing in the future, at the current time, most 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ owners should hold onto their tablets and pass on shelling out the extra cash for an upgrade.

A14X Coming Later This Year?

There are rumors that Apple will introduce high-end ‌iPad Pro‌ models that feature 5G connectivity and mini-LED displays at the end of 2020, so it's possible we will see another ‌iPad Pro‌ refresh before the end of the year.

In these new models, Apple could introduce an A14X, based on current rumors.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about this guide, want to offer feedback, or know of something that we left out? Send us an email here.

Tag: A12Z

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Apple Announces 'Let Loose' Event on May 7 Amid Rumors of New iPads

Tuesday April 23, 2024 7:11 am PDT by
Apple has announced it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, May 7 at 7 a.m. Pacific Time (10 a.m. Eastern Time), with a live stream to be available on Apple.com and on YouTube as usual. The event invitation has a tagline of "Let Loose" and shows an artistic render of an Apple Pencil, suggesting that iPads will be a focus of the event. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
Apple Vision Pro Dual Loop Band Orange Feature 2

Apple Cuts Vision Pro Shipments as Demand Falls 'Sharply Beyond Expectations'

Tuesday April 23, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple has dropped the number of Vision Pro units that it plans to ship in 2024, going from an expected 700 to 800k units to just 400k to 450k units, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Orders have been scaled back before the Vision Pro has launched in markets outside of the United States, which Kuo says is a sign that demand in the U.S. has "fallen sharply beyond expectations." As a...
iOS 17 All New Features Thumb

iOS 17.5 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Sunday April 21, 2024 3:00 am PDT by
The upcoming iOS 17.5 update for the iPhone includes only a few new user-facing features, but hidden code changes reveal some additional possibilities. Below, we have recapped everything new in the iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5 beta so far. Web Distribution Starting with the second beta of iOS 17.5, eligible developers are able to distribute their iOS apps to iPhone users located in the EU...
iPad And Calculator App Feature

Apple Finally Plans to Release a Calculator App for iPad Later This Year

Tuesday April 23, 2024 9:08 am PDT by
Apple is finally planning a Calculator app for the iPad, over 14 years after launching the device, according to a source familiar with the matter. iPadOS 18 will include a built-in Calculator app for all iPad models that are compatible with the software update, which is expected to be unveiled during the opening keynote of Apple's annual developers conference WWDC on June 10. AppleInsider...
iPhone 15 Pro FineWoven

Apple Reportedly Stops Production of FineWoven Accessories

Sunday April 21, 2024 6:03 am PDT by
Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories, according to the Apple leaker and prototype collector known as "Kosutami." In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kosutami explained that Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories due to its poor durability. The company may move to another non-leather material for its premium accessories in the future. Kosutami has revealed...
apple vision pro orange

Apple Vision Pro Customer Interest Dying Down at Some Retail Stores

Monday April 22, 2024 2:12 am PDT by
Apple Vision Pro, Apple's $3,500 spatial computing device, appears to be following a pattern familiar to the AR/VR headset industry – initial enthusiasm giving way to a significant dip in sustained interest and usage. Since its debut in the U.S. in February 2024, excitement for the Apple Vision Pro has noticeably cooled, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Writing in his latest Power On...