iPad 3 benchmark shows 1GB RAM, no boost in CPU

Apple’s keynotes are not exactly the most technical. They say “same battery life as iPad 2”, the specs say “70% larger battery”. Apple says LTE, specs say US LTE. That’s also why no one has known about the specifications of the A5X chip and the RAM in the iPad until someone got their hands on one early and ran a benchmark, as the only thing Apple highlighted in the keynote was the quad core graphics part of the chip.

Well, the results are in, and the benchmarks show the same CPU as in last year’s iPad 2, but with a doubling of RAM. While some people might wonder why on Earth the CPU hasn’t been upgraded, the answer is quite simple: it doesn’t really have to be. In many parts of computers today, the GPU is actually what does a lot of the heavy lifting. That’s why the difference between a Tegra 2 and an Exynos chip in Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs is so much more than a 20% increase in CPU clock speed. It’s also why I start ranting about how Samsung’s press release authors should be fired for creating press releases that only mentions a tablet’s brain in terms of CPU clock speed.

Apple focused on the same thing last year, upgrading the iPad 2’s GPU much more than its CPU, as this benchmark of the iPad 2 and Tegra 3-equipped Transformer Prime shows very clearly. With a higher resolution screen, upgrading the GPU and leaving the CPU makes a ton of sense. I would have expected at least a slight boost in clock speed – if nothing else so that Android tablet manufacturers couldn’t use it against Apple in another wave of misleading advertising – but that’s another story. As for the RAM, that bump also makes a lot of sense. The original iPad had 256MB of RAM, which was too little. Half of that went to the OS, leaving little for apps. The iPad 2 bumped that to 512MB, which was nearly a tripling of actual available RAM for apps since the iPad 2 uses about as much RAM for the OS as the original iPad. With the iPad 3 however, textures now have to be four times as large. Whenever you load iBooks, that image file showing the book shelf background is four times as large, and so it requires more RAM. The same concept goes for pretty much every aspect of the iPad 3, and especially games if they want to really take advantage of that new resolution. As such, more RAM is needed.

[Tinhte.vn (Vietnamese) via Engadget]

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.