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News  16, Apr 2012

Apple introduces more than just the A5X this year, but nobody notices.

Photo:Engadget

The folks over at Chipworks have noticed that the good old iPad 2 got an upgrade as well.

So, apparently our friends at Apple have given the “new iPad 2″ an upgrade. Chipworks discovered that the fruity device maker is shipping its “new iPad 2″ with a revised A5 SoC (called the S5L8942 for those who speak chip instead of human).

It is built on a 32nm Samsung  HKMG (High Metal K-Gate) process, and this has been verified by several review sites. The new A5 is as near as makes no difference 41% smaller than its predecessor. Chipworks speculate that because the new A5 is complex for such a low volume part, it may be a low risk attempt to test the new 32nm process, while figuring out design issues. In chip manufacturing, it is sensible to change the design, or the process, but not both at the same time as it adds an exponential level of uncertainty/difficulty. Could Apple be trying out the 32nm process on a low volume A5 part in order to test the manufacturing for a die shrink of its A5X? I feel this is plausible as the die size of the current A5X is even larger than some low voltage Intel Notebook processors. At this point, there are two interesting issues to think about:

1) Will there be a 32nm die shrink version of the ‘new iPad’ in a few months time? Typically a die shrink leads to better power consumption and less heat. This solves two of the biggest issues that have been widely reported about the ‘new iPad”.

2) Will the ‘new iPad 2′ have better battery life than the ‘old’ iPad 2?

I’m trying to get my hands on a new iPad 2 in order to run some tests vs my old iPad 2. Until I do, I hope that some owners would post their findings in the comments for the benefit of their fellow users ;)

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