Feeds

iPad CPU yields up (some) secrets to x-ray scan

Inside the A4

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

And the best way of seeing what's inside the A4 processor that powers Apple's iPad is? Take the chip out and x-ray it, of course, and that's what gadget repair house iFixit and semiconductor specialist Chipworks have done.

Having pulled apart an iPad, iFixit passed the processor on to Chipworks, which then went to town on the CPU.

Apple A4

Inside the A4
Source: Chipworks

Its investigation found that the A4 packages contains three discrete layers: two slabs of Samsung Ram and the system-on-a-chip itself. Each memory layer contains 1Gb of SDRam - for 2Gb / 256MB in total.

The SoC's top-down view reveals that it's not a dual-core chip, suggesting to iFixit that it's based on ARM's Cortex A8 core, not the eagerly anticipated multi-core A9. That said, the A9 is available in a single-core form, so the jury has to remain out on this one until Chipworks spots a feature that is unique to either the A8 or the A9, or Apple comes clean.

What we can say is that, unlike iPhone CPUs, the A4 has no Samsung part number on the CPU die, suggesting this really is an Apple-designed baby, albeit it one constructed from off-the-shelf components.

Apple A4

Princess layer: side-on view of the A4
Source: Chipworks

While the x-ray analysis doesn't confirm which graphics engine is built into the A4, benchmarks show the core delivers the same performance numbers as the PowerVR SGX 535 built into the iPhone 3GS, iFixit said. ®

You can view iFixit's full teardown here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.