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iPad Air’s A7 Chip is identical to the iPhone except it is faster

Nov 3 2013, 4:44pm CST | by , in News | Apple

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Photo Credit: arstechnica

In a surprise announcement, Apple announced that the new iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini would both be powered by the same Apple A7 chip processor used by the iPhone 5S. This comes as an unexpected move from Apple given that tablets with a higher display resolution required chips with more powerful Graphical Processing Units.

The third-generation iPad  released in early 2012 required a different display resolution from the sister iPhone. The 1136 × 640 resolution for iPhones and 2048 × 1536 for iPads meant that different chips were required, A5 and A6 for the phones and  A5X and A6X for the tabs. The X chips had more  powerful GPUs and wider memory interfaces to power larger displays on the tablets.

The A7 processor in the iPhone 5S offers consumers two Apple's 64-bit ARMv8 "Cyclone" CPU cores, 1GB of LPDDR3 RAM, Imagination Technologies PowerVR G6430 GPU, as well as a 64-bit memory interface. The iPad Air  however, uses the A7 chip at a hardware level, in a different configuration.

The A7 in iPad Air runs at a base CPU clock speed of 1.4GHz, very slightly above the 1.3GHz figure of the iPhone 5S. It is possible to further increase the the clock speed theoretically, but this requires a correspondingly large amount of power and is not the best way to increase performance. Since the iPad is larger than the iPhone and allows Apple more room for heat dissipation, the iPad's A7 core can  sustain higher CPU clock speeds for longer periods of time.

While the A7 performs admirably in performance tests, a potential bottleneck seems to be the 1GB RAM provision. Apple's fantastic memory management means that iOS devices have generally gotten by with less RAM than Android gadgets, but the iPad Air  does crash due to low memory errors.

An overall evaluation pronounces the A7 fit for the new iPad Air and consumers worldwide are waiting eagerly to explore the latest offering from Apple.

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