The A5X is a dual core CPU. That should be clear. Expect to hear the whining of ‘disappointed’ tech pundits. Rumor rumblings said it would be either dual-core (and a disappointment) or quad-core. We got both, but the quad-core is for the GPU only.
Strait from Apple’s Tech page:
Dual-core Apple A5X custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip with quad-core graphics
We have to weed out the bulk of that. Apple has always used a ‘custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip’ in the iPad. The iPad 2, and iPhone 4S both run the A5, dual core chips. The update to the A5, the A5X, is unique in that it has quad-core graphics.
Does Apple think it’s important?
Apple made a pretty big deal about the dual-core processor in their iPad 2 marketing materials. The website displayed it prominently on the front page. They still talk about the processor on the new iPad site, but it’s fallen to a lowly feature.
Don’t let the lack of emphasis fool you. The fact that it’s dual-core CPU, and quad-core graphics is big. It means we get the benefits of 4 processors in our display, without sacrificing as much in our battery.
Retina wouldn’t be possible without it
This is an update that we should have seen coming. When the rumor sites started talking about the iPad sticking with a dual-core processor, and yet still updating to a Retina display, it should have triggered a few flags.
The Retina display on the new iPad wouldn’t be possible without the new and powerful A5X chip. It drives power to every one of the 3.1 million pixels in the display. And its quad-core graphics processing makes everything you do on iPad feel incredibly responsive.
Battery life is still very important
The iPad gets pretty amazing battery life. I almost never even worry that it’s running low. However, it hasn’t reached the level of battery life that a device like the e-ink Kindle has where it’s basically taken for granted.
Apple has to make trade-offs. For this generation they chose battery life over processor cores. I haven’t seen an iPad struggle with two cores, I don’t see a reason to think it needs four in it’s chip.
Image Source: The Verge