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The iPad Pro's A12Z chip could be a "renamed A12X with an enabled GPU core"

By Cookie Monster - on 27 Mar 2020, 8:10am

The iPad Pro's A12Z chip could be a "renamed A12X with an enabled GPU core"

The Apple iPad Pro (2020).

The A12Z chip in the iPad Pro (2020) lineup may not be that "new" after all. 

Notebook Check suggests that the A12Z and A12X are basically the same chip with the same physical number of CPU and GPU cores. The publication speculates that Apple deliberately disabled one GPU core in the A12X so that it could enable the latent core in an interim refresh. This would save time and money to develop an A13X. 

The speculation is later confirmed by TechInSights, a firm specialising in revealing the internals of chipsets. Yuzo Fukuzaki from TechInSights shared that the A12X physically has 8 GPU cores. The company is planning to conduct floorplan analysis on the A12Z to determine if there are any differences from the A12X.

AnandTech feels the A12Z could just be a re-binned variant of the A12X. This is backed up by another report which claims that chip binning is a common practice in the silicon industry and among GPU vendors where disabling one core by design helps companies to ship more viable dies at a given target performance.

Having repeatable structures like a GPU core, in theory, could add to a potential defect rate with each added core. It is believed that Apple could have disabled one GPU core in the A12X to increase production yield during the early days of the 7nm era. Now that 7nm yields have improved, Apple enabled the latent core and gave the A12X a minor name revision to indicate a marginally better performance. During our review of the iPad Pro (2020), we also confirmed that the A12Z chip is only marginally more powerful than the A12X.

Source: Notebook Check, Protective Earth