The Apple A12Z Bionic is just the A12X Bionic with one more GPU core enabled
When the new iPad Pros were announced, I did find the Apple A12Z Bionic quite puzzling. Apple has kept a cadence where they will offer an X variant of the current-gen iPhone chipset, which meant that this generation should have been the A13X Bionic. But instead, we got the A12Z Bionic. As it turns out, the Apple A12Z Bionic is just a full-enabled variant of the Apple A12X Bionic.
NotebookCheck realized the possibility of this being the case and reached out to TechInsights, who then confirmed that the A12X indeed packs eight GPU cores on the die, although one of them is disabled. That last GPU core is active in the A12Z Bionic. Of course TechInsight will be going to go deeper into the new iPad Pro to find out if Apple really just threw in a fully functional last-gen’s chipset and called it a day. With that said, this explains the minimal difference between the A12X Bionic and A12Z Bionic in Antutu’s comparison.
Disabling a part of chip for the sake of product segmentation isn’t unheard of, and in fact it is very common in the GPU market. Remember how NVIDIA made three cards from the GP102? First they released a cut-down version with 2 SMs disabled as the Titan X (Pascal) and charged top dollar for it.
Then when AMD was prepping the Vega 64 for launch, NVIDIA released the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, which had the same GPU, but clocked faster. And then to avoid having to explain why a card from the flagship Titan series is slower than a GeForce GTX card, they released the Titan Xp, a card that has the GP102’s full ensemble of 30 SMs fully enabled. That was three cards hewn from the same GPU, which is arguably a lot worse than what Apple did here. But what’s NVIDIA didn’t do was waiting for a full product cycle to release what’s essentially a last-gen chip by now.
One explanation provided by NotebookCheck is that Apple might be focusing their efforts on developing the A14X for the iPad Pro 5G that’s slated for launch later this year, and thus decided to skip development of an A13X that will inevitably be outdated as soon as that chip comes around.
Regardless, the A12Z Bionic is still a very powerful mobile chipset, and the new iPad Pro is still going to the most powerful iPad Pro for at least a year. The good thing is that owners of the older iPad Pro won’t feel so outdated.
Pokdepinion: Hmm with the A12X Bionic still so powerful, I guess it really doesn’t matter?