Ars Technica interviewed Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, and Anand Shimpi, from Apple’s Hardware Technologies group, about the new iPad Pro’s A12X system on a chip. The article also benchmarks the iPad Pro against other iOS devices, Macs, and competing products. The results of Ars Technica’s tests are impressive. The iPad is not only the fastest iOS device available, but it also compares favorably with Apple’s pro Mac lineup.
In the interview, Samuel Axon of Ars leads off by asking about the iPad’s CPU. Shimpi explains how the chip outperforms the A10X:
“We’ve got our own custom-designed performance controller that lets you use all eight at the same time,” Shimpi told Ars. “And so when you’re running these heavily-threaded workloads, things that you might find in pro workflows and pro applications, that’s where you see the up to 90 percent improvement over A10X.”
Regarding the GPU, Shimpi says:
“It’s our first 7-core implementation of our own custom-designed GPU,” he said. “Each one of these cores is both faster and more efficient than what we had in the A10X and the result is, that’s how you get to the 2x improved graphics performance. It’s unheard of in this form factor, this is really an Xbox One S class GPU. And again, it’s in a completely fanless design.”
Apple is predictably tight-lipped about the Neural Engine, which powers machine learning tasks. In response to why the company keeps pushing its chip technology forward so rapidly despite its lead, Schiller pointed to Apple’s culture:
We don’t care if they’re doing something that isn’t interesting to us. We don’t care if we’re lapping them. Good. We’ll lap them ten times. It doesn’t matter because it’s in service to the user, not the competition.
It’s not surprising that Apple was unwilling to share much detail about how and why it’s pushing so aggressively with its custom silicon solutions. What’s clear, however, is that the company is well aware of the advantage its custom solution provides and is moving forward as fast as ever to improve it even further.