Inside Apple's A5X Chipset: Dual-Core CPU, Quad-Core GPU

By Adrian Covert on at

With the announcement of the iPad 3, came the announcement of a new processor: the A5x chipset with (presumably) a dual-core CPU and quad-core GPU. The A5x is more powerful to be sure, but should we think of it as a next-generation chip, or merely a spec bump?

AnandTech believes that the A5x is running the same dual-core Cortex A9 CPU as before, but now features a PowerVR SGX543MP4 GPU, instead of the the dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2. Apple says that the A5x GPU is twice as powerful as the A5 found in the iPad 2 and four times more powerful than NVIDIA's Tegra 3 chipset. And overall, the chipset is believed to be twice as powerful as the Tegra 3. Whoa.

Under what conditions they performed that test, remains to be seen, but shouldn't come as a shock considering Apple's A4 and A5 chipsets have routinely outperformed more powerful hardware from competitors.

So what does this mean for the iPad? Well games and video are obvious benefactor here. And it will also ensure that battery won't suffer as much when trying to push pixels to the Retina display. It may not sound like an numerically-imposing, cutting-edge upgrade like Sony's PS Vita announcement was a year ago. But if Apple's A5X can manage to outperform NVIDIA's chipset — which has four Cortex A9 cores (plus a fifth low-power core) and 8 GPU cores — that would be an impressive feat.