When Steve Jobs announced the dual-cored Apple A5 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) at the iPad 2 event, I assumed it was using an ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor as its CPU. Last year’s Apple A4 SoC used a single core, 1 GHz Cortex A8 after all, so why wouldn’t the Apple A4’s successor use the Cortex A8’s successor? However, John Siracusa of Ars Technica raised an interesting alternative on this week’sHypercritical podcast — what if Apple is instead use two Cortex A8 cores instead?
His argument was that, with the Cortex A9’s architecture, it should be more than the 2x speed boost Steve Jobs claimed at the iPad 2 event. If it was more than 2x the speed, Apple would certainly have said so. 3x, 4x — all look better on stage and on websites (much like the 9x graphics claim).
With previous year’s 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple stuck with old Intel Core2 Duo processors and Nvidia chipsets and when questioned about it, Steve Jobs replied that Apple thought major battery life and graphics improvements were more important that relatively minor CPU speed boosts.
Could the same be true with the Apple A5? Could Apple have stuck with the older Cortex A8 and shifted performance increases to the GPU (PowerVR SGX), all to keep that 10 hour battery life?
We’ll have to wait for the teardowns to find out.