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iPad Air 2's A8X Chip Includes Semi-Custom Series6XT Graphics With Eight Cores

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Apr 12, 2001
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New details have come to light regarding the iPad Air 2's graphics processing power since its launch last month, with a new report from AnandTech revealing the new tablet's graphics are even more powerful than previously thought.

Benchmarks and teardowns on the tablet revealed details on the inner workings of the iPad Air 2 in the days following its launch, but a new image of the A8X die provided to AnandTech reveals the layout of the Apple-designed chip. The die photo shows the A8X includes eight-core graphics, even larger than the 6-core GX6650 graphics from Imagination Technologies previously assumed to be in the chip.
To get right down to business then, the die shot confirms what we had begun suspecting: that A8X has an 8 cluster Series6XT configuration. All 8 GPU clusters are clearly visible, and perhaps unsurprisingly it looks a lot like the GPU layout of the GX6450. To put it in words, imagine A8's GX6450 with another GX6450 placed right above it, and that would be the A8X's 8 cluster GPU.
AnandTech was unable to share the source's actual image of the die, but Chipworks has just provided MacRumors with a similar image showing the eight graphics cores taking up a substantial portion of the A8X's die. The photo also shows the new triple-core CPU and a number of other features included on the chip.

A8X die photo from Chipworks

Uncertainty over the A8X graphics stems from Imagination's public list of Series6XT graphics offerings, which tops out with the 6-core GX6650, but the new die photo reveals that Apple has employed a semi-custom design essentially pairing two quad-core packages on the chip to yield eight-core graphics.

Thanks to its licensing agreements with Imagination, Apple is free to modify the GPU designs developed by the graphics company, and Apple's position as a key investor in Imagination almost certainly gives it advance access to Imagination's pipeline, allowing such custom designs to be launched just nine months after Series6XT was announced.

Other gathered information includes details about the A8X's size and design. The die shot places the A8X at roughly 128mm2, only a bit larger than the 123 mm2 A6X used the last time Apple developed a custom "X" chip for the iPad. Compared to other models on the market, the A8X is a bit larger than NVIDIA's 118mm2 GK107 GPU but also smaller than Intel's 130mm2 2C+GT2 Haswell CPU. Design-wise, the A8X otherwise appears to have not drastically changed much from the A8, besides slight tweaks to make the eight-cluster design functional and the addition of a third CPU core.

Just yesterday, Imagination announced its next-generation Series7XT designs, and given the timing of this year's announcements and releases, the new graphics are likely to make their way into Apple's A9-series chips for inclusion in its 2015 iOS devices.

Article Link: iPad Air 2's A8X Chip Includes Semi-Custom Series6XT Graphics With Eight Cores
 

dannys1

macrumors 68030
Sep 19, 2007
2,919
5,249
UK
Can't innovate my ass (or do tech specs not count when Apple does them?)
 
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nunes013

macrumors 65816
May 24, 2010
1,282
185
Connecticut
Apple is not playing around when it comes to these chips. That A9X will be a monster if they stay on current trends.
 
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centauratlas

macrumors 65816
Jan 29, 2003
1,354
2,184
Florida
On my iPad Air 2, both Monopoly and Battleship have their graphics messed up. While the power and speed are great, it would be nice if EA and Hasbro fixed them.
 
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chrmjenkins

macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2007
5,322
154
CA
This die shot shows how hard it would be to do a 128-bit memory interface on a smaller die. It takes up so much of the edge of the chip. That is until they start doing 3D IC stuff.
 
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MartinAppleGuy

macrumors 68020
Sep 27, 2013
2,246
887
Why did Apple ever make the quote "most forward thinking Iphone" for the iPhone 5s but no mention anything for this? 2GB of RAM, a tri core CPU pretty much on par with the MacBook air, 8 cluster graphics... The iPad Air 2 is Apples most forward thinking iOS device and it will have the largest longevity of any iOS device created to date.
 
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unplugme71

macrumors 68030
May 20, 2011
2,827
754
Earth
how does this increase performance with my Notes app? Wish Apple would innovate again :rolleyes:

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Why did Apple ever make the quote "most forward thinking Iphone" for the iPhone 5s but no mention anything for this? 2GB of RAM, a tri core CPU pretty much on par with the MacBook air, 8 cluster graphics... The iPad Air 2 is Apples most forward thinking iOS device and it will have the largest longevity of any iOS device created to date.

until iOS 10 when its no longer supported
 
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WardC

macrumors 68030
Oct 17, 2007
2,726
213
Fort Worth, TX
Oh, down with this boring stuff....show us the chip layout for the new Xeons for the second generation Mac Pros...already!

8-Core graphics is great, but can you edit a few 4K videos simultaneously on an iPad? I don't think so...
 
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PhamQu

macrumors newbie
Jul 16, 2013
29
0
FL, USA
iPad 2 on iOS 6 here. This iPad Air is looking pretty damn powerful, but I think I will hold out even longer for the next iPad coming next year
 
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Jamalien

macrumors member
Oct 29, 2014
97
152
They really seemed to have nailed this iPad iteration. And don't know why they didn't make such a big deal out of this performance. BIG selling point
 
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dannyyankou

macrumors G4
Mar 2, 2012
10,049
19,122
Westchester, NY
I'd settle for multi-user support on the iPad. It'd be so simple and elegant to do this with Touch ID ...

That too, but I said multitasking mainly referring to the extra graphics performance. If you're going to run 2 apps at once, you need double the graphics performance.
 
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Reason077

macrumors 68020
Aug 14, 2007
2,485
1,242
The iPad Air 2 is Apples most forward thinking iOS device and it will have the largest longevity of any iOS device created to date.

My vote goes to the original iPad 2.

I bought mine the day they were released, more than 3 1/2 years ago. Still runs the latest iOS and most software brilliantly, and with great battery life.

In fact, Apple were still selling the iPad 2 up until earlier this year.
 
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brianvictor7

macrumors 65816
Oct 24, 2013
1,051
417
United States
Apple's processor chips have excelled in their mobile devices. Wish they would give us more on their Macs without having to spring for a Mac Pro or iMac Retina.
 
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proline

macrumors 6502a
Nov 18, 2012
630
1
Can't innovate my ass (or do tech specs not count when Apple does them?)
Correct. When Apple does bigger/faster/thinner it's just bigger/faster/thinner. When Samsung does it it's the greatest innovation since the transistor.
 
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proline

macrumors 6502a
Nov 18, 2012
630
1
Apple's processor chips have excelled in their mobile devices. Wish they would give us more on their Macs without having to spring for a Mac Pro or iMac Retina.
If you have a problem with the lack of innovation in desktop CPUs you need to whine about Intel, not Apple. Apple is stuck with what they get and other features, such as retina screen on the MBA, depend on Intel's offerings.
 
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