iOS 14.5 beta code reveals that Apple’s next iPad Pro might be powered by an A14X, which could offer significant improvements and CPU speed boost.
Apple is expected to launch at least one new iPad Pro this year and some recent information suggests the updated tablet may feature an A14X system-on-a-chip. Apple currently sells five models, two of which have the Pro designation, one with an 11-inch display and the largest iPad of them all, the 12.9-inch model. The standard iPad is quite affordable and powerful, but the iPad Pro eclipses all others in terms of sheer processing power and has a few exclusive features as well.
Apple introduced the first iPad Pro in 2015 and thereafter reserved its most powerful mobile chips for its Pro line of products. The A-series system-on-a-chip (SoC) includes CPU, GPU and various other integrated circuits in a single silicon wafer, resulting in low power while speeding the interaction between components. A similar strategy is used for most smartphones and tablets across the industry and SoCs have even become powerful enough for laptops and some desktop computers, such as Apple’s latest M1 Macs. Apple appends an ‘X’ to an A-series chip to indicate that it is a more powerful variant of the same design. For example, an A12X has more cores for CPU and GPU than an A12 processor, offering higher performance for heavy workloads.
9to5 Mac was among the first to discover that the beta version of iOS 14.5 contains code references that suggest an A14X will be used in the next iPad Pro to be released. Rumors suggest this may happen as soon as April of 2021. If Apple follows its usual pattern with its mobile chips, an A14X would offer more cores for heavy processing loads, completing multi-core tasks faster and handling demanding graphics jobs more rapidly as well. For comparison, the A12X found in the fourth-generation iPad Pro is about 70-percent faster in Geekbench multi-core benchmarks than the A12 that powers the iPad mini 5, so this may be a dramatic speed improvement over the already super-fast A14 that’s used in the iPhone 12 and iPad Air 4.
iPad Pro Versus MacBook?
Apple has said its tablets are as powerful as laptop computers for several years now, but that was largely dismissed by the PC industry since the iPad operating system was the same as that used on the iPhone. Once Apple introduced an iPad-specific solution, iPadOS, things changed. Now an iPad offers a desktop Safari browser that behaves almost identically to the Safari browser for the MacBook and Mac desktop computers. An iPad is also compatible with a mouse or trackpad. Apple offers external keyboard options, as well as the Magic Keyboard that folds over the screen for easy portability, making it quite similar to a laptop.
If an A14X makes an iPad Pro equal to or better than current laptops, it may present a challenge to consumers to decide between an iPad or a MacBook. There have been rumors of the two devices merging, but Apple continues to describe them as different use cases. The MacBook is oriented toward the use of a keyboard and trackpad, while the iPad is designed for touch-screen. If they become equal in processing power, clarifying and distinguishing that design approach will become more important than ever for Apple. Apple has a history of being its own best competitor. The long-forgotten Lisa computer was a behemoth that fell to the tiny Macintosh, which managed to fit the same niche with a much lower cost and smaller form factor. The lack of some desktop apps for tablets will likely continue to be a barrier for acceptance among professionals, but if the A14X sees a 70-percent improvement over Apple’s A14, it could be strong enough to challenge the performance of the fastest laptops.
Next: How Apple’s M1 Silicon Compares To iPhone 12 Chip
Source: 9to5 Mac, Geekbench
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