Nvidia questions Apple's A5X chip claims

March 9, 2012 | 11:26

Tags: #ipad #smartphone #tablet #tegra #tegra-3

Companies: #apple #arm #nvidia

Nvidia has hit back at Apple's claims that its A5X processor, as found in the new iPad, boasts four times the graphics performance of the Tegra 3 'Kal-El' processor.

Apple's announcement of the new iPad earlier this week brought a surprising claim. While the high-resolution display and improved camera were expected, the A5X processor at the heart of the new tablet brought with it a bold claim: four times the graphics performance of Nvidia's Tegra 3 offering.

With Nvidia positioning the Tegra 3 system-on-chip design as the obvious choice for high-performance tablets, smartphones and portable gaming devices, those are fighting words. They're also difficult to quantify: full specifications for the A5X have not been released, and while it's known to have two central processing cores and four graphics processing cores the Tegra 3 boasts four CPU cores, 12 GPU pipelines and a low-power 'companion core.'

Nvidia, naturally, isn't taking the snub lying down. 'We don't have the benchmark information,' Nvidia's Ken Brown complained to ZDNet regarding Apple's bold claims. 'We have to understand what the application was that was used. Was it one or a variety of applications? What drivers were used? There are so many issues to get into with benchmarks.'

Nvidia isn't the only one scoffing at Apple's claims. Tablet maker Asus took to Twitter to point out that Apple's claims of a quad-core GPU in the new iPad are somewhat overshadowed by the 12 cores in the Tegra 3. The company has good reason to leap to Nvidia's defence: the Tegra 3 forms the heart of its latest Asus Transformer Prime tablet, and will likely be found in the company's rumoured 11.6in high-resolution Eee Pad offering too.

With Apple refusing to release performance figures for the A5X or details of the benchmark used to reach the claim of a quadrupling of graphics performance, the argument is likely to go unsettled until the new iPad can be independently tested. If true, though, it's a blow for Nvidia. The company has always prided itself on graphics performance, and if a company which doesn't even make processors - the A5X is based on IP from British chip giant ARM and produced by third parties like Samsung - can leave it in the dust it's going to be a major blow to the corporate ego.
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