Feeds

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

Inside the A4

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Giving your old Tesco Hudl to Auntie June? READ THIS FIRST
You can never wipe supermarket slab clean enough
Intel admits: Broadwell Core M chip looking a bit thin, no fans found at all
Chipzilla's 'cool' 14nm part to hit market this year
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.