Yesterday we were shocked to discover that the system on chip inside the new Apple iPad, the Apple designed and Samsung built A5X, is using 45 nanometer transistors. All the important smartphones that are due to come out this year, meaning the phones that IntoMobile staff would actually buy, are going to use either Qualcomm’s 28 nanometer Snapdragon S4 or Samsung’s 32 nanometer Exynos. Why are smaller transistors a good thing? Because they use up less electricity, meaning you can clock them faster, but more importantly they give off less heat as well. Anyone who remembers using a laptop half a decade ago should have fond memories of how painful it was to surf the internet while on the can. Anyway, toilet distractions aside, it looks like A5X in the new iPad runs quite a bit hotter than the A5 inside the iPad 2. Independent testing done by the Dutch site Tweakers.net reveals that when running GLBenchmark on both the second generation and third generation iPad, the latter is 9.54 degrees Fahrenheit (5.3 degrees Celsius) hotter, particularly in the lower left corner where the processor sits.
This doesn’t come as any surprise. Running a benchmark on any device, whether it be a tablet, smartphone, laptop, or desktop, is going to make it put out some heat. And the fact that the A5X has double the number of graphics processors as the A5 means there’s more silicon warming up. Can Apple fix this issue? In the short term, no. But you can be rest assured that the next iPad, the new new iPad, will use a more smaller, more power efficient chip.
Do you have the new iPad? Are you finding the amount of heat it outputs to be a bit unbearable or do you not really care? If you’ve been sitting on the fence about buying an iPad, will this news deter you and make you wait another year or perhaps make you consider buying a Windows 8 tablet?
Update 01: Apple has issued the following statement:
“The new iPad delivers a stunning Retina display, A5X chip, support for 4G LTE plus 10 hours of battery life, all while operating well within our thermal specifications. If customers have any concerns they should contact AppleCare.”
Fancy way of saying: “Look, if you don’t like the new iPad, then call us to complain.”
Update 02: Oh snap, Consumer Reports has just published their thoughts:
When unplugged, the back of the new iPad reached temperatures as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit. It was only when plugged in that it hit 116 degrees. The hottest areas weren’t evenly distributed throughout the iPad’s back, but were concentrated near one corner of the display as shown in the images taken from the rear of the device above.
So, when plugged in, the back of the new iPad became as much as 12 degrees hotter than the iPad 2 did in the same tests; while unplugged the difference was 13 degrees.
During our tests, I held the new iPad in my hands. When it was at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period.