A new rumor photo of an Apple “A5X” chip on an iPad 3 logic board breaks tradition with Cupertino’s chip taxonomy. Could an A5X be all about justifying a marginal upgrade from the A5, plus no quad core?
As the eventual release date of the iPad 3 approaches, we are beginning to see more and more purported leaked photos of components, as per the typical cycle of an Apple rumor mill. Now that the photos of the new iPad 3 form factor have been vetted (inconclusively, I might add), today we are being treated to a new round of photos featuring a brand-new possible chip stuck on what is said to be an iPad 3 logic board. Rather than seeing the expected A6 on the processor, instead it features a new taxonomy: A5X.
Is the “A5X” to the “A5″ what “iPhone 4S” is to the “iPhone 4?”
This is what Engadget has to say: “The big news (if true) is the “A5X” silicon, suggesting we’ll see an incremental enhancement rather than the wholesale revolutions evident in the A4 and A5 chips that accompanied its predecessors. The SoC (with the Apple logo, to the right of the two Hynix memory modules) carries a date-stamp of 1146, suggesting it was produced in the 46th week of last year.”
As always, it is worth noting that, for Photoshop masters, affixing an “A5X” stamp on a photo like this is more than doable, and we know that there are plenty of cynicalrumor mongers out there who will fabricate anything just to make a quick buck online. We’ve seen it all before. But for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that the A5X chip turns out to be a reality: what would be the purpose of Apple choosing to remain on “5″ instead of moving on to the A6?
For one, Cupertino might not be ready to go quad core.
We’ve been writing lately about the possibility that the A6 chip could in fact remain dual core, and how this move by Apple could stick out like a sore thumb in 2012, as more and more smartphones and tablets will be deploying quad core chips in their devices. From a marketing and branding standpoint, the A5X could be a way of mitigating the disappointment of the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 sticking with a dual core processor. Granted, merely calling it “A5X” wouldn’t exonerate Apple from failing to bump the new chip up to quad core, but at the very least it would save the A6 brand for a quad core upgrade down the line.
Dual Core A5X In iPad 3, Quad Core A6 In iPhone 5?
Again — theoretically speaking — if the A5X comes to fruition, could we also imagine that Apple could deploy the A5X in the iPad 3, but a brand-new quad core A6 in the iPhone 5?
From a hardware standpoint, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense at face value. After all, the iPad 3 is rumored to be focused heavily on upgraded visuals, the addition of Siri, and 4G LTE. Considering all of these new high performance processes, one would think that a quad core A6 for the iPhone 5 would be just as useful — if not more so — in the iPad 3. Additionally, it would make sense from a production standpoint to begin stocking up copious amounts of A6 chips for the iPhone 5 now, as the iPad 3 goes into mass production.
But perhaps there’s something we don’t know about the manufacture of these chips.
Perhaps producing an “A5X” is far less complicated, involving minimal tweaks to current A5 production? In this way, it was easier and more plausible to have an A5x chip ready to go for the iPad 3, while the A6 could still make its way onto the iPhone 5 in June.
Still, just as it was hard to imaging a dual-release iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 in 2011, it becomes equally hard to believe that Apple would utilize an A5X and A6 between the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 in the same year.
By Michael Nace