The new iPad Pro is out today, and ArsTechnica has a deep dive look at the iPad Pro A12X chip with the help of Apple’s Anand Shimpi and Phil Schiller. Shimpi founded the hardware review website AnandTech before being hired to work on chips at Apple in 2014. In the piece, Shimpi says that Apple is using its own customer-designed performance controller to use all eight cores of the A12X chip in the new iPad Pro.

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From the piece:

The iPad Pro’s CPU has eight cores—four focused on performance, and four focused on efficiency. And unlike some earlier Apple chips, all cores can be active at once. This is the first device in this product line that uses this many cores simultaneously.

“We’ve got our own custom-designed performance controller that lets you use all eight at the same time,” Shimpi told Ars. “And so when you’re running these heavily-threaded workloads, things that you might find in pro workflows and pro applications, that’s where you see the up to 90 percent improvement over A10X.”

Shimpi also boasts that Apple is able to achieve MacBook Pro-class performance without using a fan:

“You typically only see this kind of performance in bigger machines—bigger machines with fans,” Shimpi claimed. “You can deliver it in this 5.9 millimeter thin iPad Pro because we’ve built such a good, such a very efficient architecture.”

As for the seven core GPU in the new A12X system on a chip, Shimpi echoed the keynote framing that the new iPad Pro has Xbox One S class graphics processing performance (although we know the challenge here is matching gameplay with available titles):

“It’s our first 7-core implementation of our own custom-designed GPU,” he said. “Each one of these cores is both faster and more efficient than what we had in the A10X and the result is, that’s how you get to the 2x improved graphics performance. It’s unheard of in this form factor, this is really an Xbox One S class GPU. And again, it’s in a completely fanless design.”

He adds that the iPad GPU performance has desktop GPUs in its sights when targeting performance:

“We’ll actually take content from the desktop, profile it, and use it to drive our GPU architectures. This is one of the things that you usually don’t see in a lot of mobile GPU benchmarks,” Shimpi explained.

When asked about why Apple continues to advance its A-series chips when the competition isn’t catching up, Schiller explained that Apple will lap its competition ten times if it helps their own customers:

We don’t care if they’re doing something that isn’t interesting to us. We don’t care if we’re lapping them. Good. We’ll lap them ten times. It doesn’t matter because it’s in service to the user, not the competition.

Ars quite fairly ends on a plea for more powerful software from Apple that can run on the blazing fast new chips in the iPad Pro:

Now, if only there were iOS versions of Final Cut, Xcode, and Logic. Powerful hardware is nothing without strong software support, and as we’ve noted in our review, that’s the area where we need to see some improvement for the iPad Pro to truly live up to its considerable potential.

Read the full piece at ArsTechnica including lots of benchmark graphs and details. For more on the new iPad Pro, catch up with our coverage and stay tuned for hands-on impressions:


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