We’re starting to learn more and more about the monster of a chip Apple has designed for the iPad Air 2.
The A8X is a new high water mark in mobile CPU performance. The A8 was an achievement in itself with a 2 billion-transistor 64bit architecture mated to quad-core graphics. The A8X goes even further with 3 billion transistors, 3 cores and what appears to be a 1.5GHz clock speed mated to 6-core graphics.
OK wow. There’s no mobile chip like this on the planet – not even close. Despite the fact that other mobile chips can have more cores, higher clock rates, and more RAM, the A8 and A8X chips utterly dominate benchmarks, and even more so in real world testing. Any petrolhead knows that performance is derived from more than just horsepower – it’s what you can do with those ponies that count. And that’s where the A8 family of chips shine:
For a frame of reference, the highest scoring Android device on the market is the NVIDIA Shield tablet and it clocks in at just 1079 for single-core and just 3202 in multi-core performance. The NVIDIA has one more core than the A8X and twice the ram available, yet these numbers speak for themselves.
Until now, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus reigned speed kings of the mobile realm, but just look at how the iPad Air 2 compares:
A couple of months ago, I suggestedApple now enjoys a competitive advantage in scale [and clearly, talent] over the entire cachet of mobile CPU manufacturers. The A8X goes a long way to proving me right. The way I see it now, Apple is a full two years ahead of anything Samsung, NVIDIA, Qualcomm or Intel have cooking up. And when you consider the scale of Apple’s vertical integration, my estimate might be too conservative.
If Apple keeps charging ahead at this rate, it will only a matter of time before we see ‘mobile’ chips finding their way into new Macs. In the next month or so, Apple will sell its billionth iOS device. Every one of those things were sold with a healthy margin. Apple literally has a billion reasons to widen the performance gap and leave the rest of the CPU market behind entirely.