Monthly Archives: February 2012

Quad-Core Assumption Of A5X Premature? Event Confirmed For March 7

Further investigation of the images leaked by BGR has led me to believe that it was incorrect for BGR, the community, as well as myself to assume that the CPU (now known to be the A5X) shown in the screenshots is quad-core.  It appears the assumption came from four lines that show the text “Found Chip ID …”.  While the lines are prefixed with “[NAND]“, this was glossed over and it was assumed that this indicated a quad-core chip.  In reality, even current phones have these lines present (example of the A4-based iPhone 4), so it seems these lines simply represent the NAND flash chips.

The A5X may indeed be quad-core, however it would be an incorrect conclusion to make from the screenshots leaked by BGR.  In any regard, we will know in about a week, as Apple has issued invitations to the media for a March 7 media event where the iPad 3 is expected to be announced as well as an updated Apple TV.

Next Apple Processor To Be Branded A5X

As previously predicted by TechPerfect, the next A-series processor by Apple will not be branded “A6″ afterall, but rather “A5X”.

A chinese forum post has depicted what appears to be a board from the upcoming iPad 3 which clearly shows the main processor as an A5X.  The processor is believed to be quad-core, but Cortex-A9 in design.  Apple’s A5 chip is also Cortex-A9 in design, but is dual core.  The chip also likely uses an upgraded graphics engine.

Apple is believed to be introducing the iPad 3 on March 7.

15 and 17″ MacBook Air To Replace MacBook Pro? Reality Check

Last year there were reports (February - iLounge, April + June - MacRumors) that Apple would be redesigning the MacBook Pro this year to make it more in line with Apple’s MacBook Air line.  This past week, AppleInsider added its own rumor to the mix that suggests an Air-like redesign will take place with the introduction of Ivy Bridge in the coming months.

It’s hard to ignore such claims from high-profile sites, however it’s important to keep in mind the implications that such a change would have on the capabilities of the machine:

MacBook Air MacBook Pro (15″)
CPU TDP: 17W
Dual core 2677M i7 max config. option
TDP: 45W
Quad core 2860QM i7 max config. option
RAM 4GB max DDR3-1333, non-upgradable 8GB max DDR3-1600, user upgradable
Graphics Integrated Only Integrated + Discrete Graphics Switching
Storage “SSD stick” up to 256GB, limited upgrade options available 5400RPM 750GB HD standard, SSD options available, user upgradable
Other Backlit Keyboard
Memory Card Reader (13″ Model)
7 hour integrated battery
Backlit Keyboard
Optical Drive
Memory Card Reader
7 hour integrated battery

While Apple may have been able to make some adjustments to increase the capability of the machines as the size expands to 15″, users should still not expect to see 45W TDP processors in any Air form factor.  The only other announced mobile quad-core option lower than 45W TDP is the 3612QM i7 which comes in at 35W TDP, still significantly more than the current models’ 17W.  Therefore, the proposed model is likely to be stuck a dual-core (with HT) 17W model such as the 3667U, which clocks at 2.0 GHz.

Also, while Apple will likely be able to match the current model’s 8GB of RAM, Apple will likely stick with Integrated graphics for power and space savings.

Conclusion
Apple may indeed be considering releasing a 15″ MacBook Air, however I have large doubts in corresponding rumors that Apple would also seek to consolidate the lines into one – at least anytime soon and certainly not within a year like AppleInsider has claimed.  I believe it is much more likely that the 13″ MacBook Pro may be sunset and 15″ MacBook Pro and MacBook Air will be sold together for some time as Apple sees how the market reacts.

Apple’s Next A-Series Processor to be Quad Core Cortex-A9

Update: Please read the follow-up article.

This week, BGR leaked photos of some debug software running on a pre-production iPad 3.  If the information is to believed, the next A-series Apple processor will indeed be quad-core, confirming rumors that have been swirling for months.

Also included in the photos is, for the first time, confirmation of which processor Apple will be using in the iPad 3: an A6 processor with model number S5L8945X. For reference, the Apple A4 model was S5L8930X and the A5 is S5L8940X. The new processor will also apparently be a quad-core model, making the upcoming iPad 3 the fastest iOS device ever, we have been told.

Reading into the CPU’s model number suggests that the upcoming chip will be of the Cortex-A9 variety: essentially a quad-core variant of Apple’s current A5 used in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, though potentially paired with a faster graphics core.  nVidia and TI are already making inroads towards releasing chips based on ARM’s latest mobile platform, the Cortex-A15, with TI previewing OMAP 5 and nVidia’s Tegra 4 “Wayne” series launch set for this year.  Devices based on both of these chips should arrive by late-2012 or early 2013.

Most of the Apple community is already calling the next chip the “A6″, however there has yet to be any solid proof that this will in fact be the naming convention used by Apple.  The name “A5 Quad”, “A5 S”, or “A5+” could just as well be used as a nod to the fact that the same underlying architecture is being used.  Indeed, Apple’s decision to only increase the model number by 5 instead of 10 to reflect this fact could be telling.