The in-house designed Apple A10X Fusion chip powering the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and 10.5-inch iPad Pro models is being fabricated on a cutting-edge ten-nanometer process technology by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
Having analyzed the processor, TechInsights was able to confirm that it's the first TSMC-built ten-nanometer chip to show up in a consumer device.
It's not the world's first ten-nanometer silicon to appear in a smartphone: a Samsung or Qualcomm-designed processor powering Galaxy S8 is built on Samsung’s 10 nm LPE process.
A detailed floorplan analysis of Apple's latest chip has revealed a die size of 96.4 mm2 versus the A9X which has a die size of 143.9 mm2 and is built on TSMC’s 16 FF-Turbo technology.
Despite its power, the A10X Fusion has the smallest die size for an iPad processor yet.
AnandTech says A10X Fusion's CPU clock speed is only marginally higher than A9X's, “and pretty much identical to A10”. Images of the chip's floorplan seen top of post and bottom reveal the chip's 12 GPU clusters on the left, along with the CPU cores to the right.
Chart via AnandTech.
“This is an impressive full node scale, when accounting for the extra CPU cores built into the A10X and extra IP blocks of the A10 vs. A9 family,” notes TechInsights.
Ultimately what this means is that in terms of design and features, A10X is relatively straightforward. It’s a proper pipecleaner product for a new process, and one that is geared to take full advantage of the die space savings as opposed to spending those savings on new features/transistors.
For those wondering, the GPU cores in the A10X Fusion chip appear to be the same Apple-customized PowerVR cores from Imagination Technologies, a British GPU designer.
As you may have heard, Apple is now developing on its own mobile GPUs to supplant Imagination-powered graphics for iOS devices.
A10X Fusion features thirty percent faster CPU performance and forty percent faster graphics compared to its predecessor, the A9X chip powering the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro.