Apple had more than a few tricks up its sleeve with regards to the iPad Air 2. While we knew the A8X chip was more powerful than the processor found inside the new batch of iPhones, hardware enthusiasts were surprised to learn that it was a triple-core affair with 2GB of RAM on tap.
AnandTech recently took an even closer look at the chip’s graphics processing unit and came away with new findings that make the SoC even more impressive than people first thought.
Based on Apple’s performance claims and their own benchmark results, the publication initially concluded that the GPU was Imagination’s PowerVR GX6650 – the company’s top GPU design. But upon further inspection and benchmark analysis, they realized this wasn’t the case at all.
A die shot from Chipworks confirmed the A8X features an 8-cluster GPU design. That’s interesting for the simple fact that Imagination doesn’t offer an official 8-cluster Series6XT GPU design. It appears that Apple has taken the GX6450 design and created an entirely new 8-cluster Series6XT design – or as the publication is calling it, the GXA6850.
Elsewhere, Anand was able to reconfirm that the A8X chip features a three-core processor design and there isn’t a fourth (disabled) core at play. While an odd number of cores is a bit unusual, it’s not completely unheard of.
Looking ahead, Imagination announced its next generation PowerVR Series7 graphics architecture earlier this week with a maximum of 16 clusters. Given Apple's quick turnaround with the A8X, we could very well see Imagination's latest show up in the A9X by this time next year.