Apple’s iPad 2 went on sale in the US on Friday, with technical experts already tearing the first models apart and benchmarking its new A5 processor to get a proper handle on the device. The results make for interesting reading.
iFixit got in early with its teardown, finding that the iPad 2’s battery is a 3.8V 25W-hour unit — “just a hair more than the original iPad’s 24.8W-hours, so any improved battery performance can be attributed to software and other hardware improvements”. Apple claimed when unveiling the iPad 2 that it preserves the 10-hour battery life of its predecessor.
iFixit has also settled the RAM debate around the iPad 2, revealing that its A5 processor comes with 512MB of Samsung-manufactured RAM — double that of the first iPad. According to the devices pulled apart by the site, the A5 processor was being manufactured in late January and mid-February, only shortly before the iPad 2 was revealed to the world.
The downside? iFixit gives the new device a ‘repairability score’ of 4/10, with 10 being the easiest to repair. “The front panel is now glued to the rest of the device, greatly increasing the chances of cracking the glass when trying to remove it,” explains the site.
“The LCD has foam sticky tape adhering it to the front panel, increasing chances of it being shattered during disassembly.” Bad news for have-a-go home-fixers, in other words.
Separately, AnandTech has been running its own less-destructive tests on the iPad 2. Its analysis of the device’s cameras claims they are identical to those in the latest iPod touch, with the rear camera shooting video at 1,280×720-pixel resolution, and cropping still photos at 960×720 size. The front camera is 640×480-pixel (VGA) resolution, as Apple says.
AnandTech also did some benchmarking of the A5 processor, finding that its CPU performance is 50 per cent faster than the A4 used for the original iPad. The site also dug into the device’s GPU — an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX 543MP2 — which Apple had said would give up to 9x graphical performance compared to the iPad 1.
Here’s the science bit: “Architecturally the 543MP2 has more than twice the compute horsepower of the SGX 535 used in Apple’s A4. Each shader pipeline can execute twice the number of instructions per clock as the SGX 535, and then there are four times as many pipes in an SGX 543MP2 as there are in a 535. There are also efficiency improvements as well…”
AnandTech’s graphical benchmarking tests show the iPad 2 putting both the iPad and the Motorola Xoom to the sword. The company also tested out Infinity Blade’s new iPad 2-optimised version. “Load times are reduced thanks to the Cortex A9 CPU cores and there is some improvement in frame rate, but the biggest impact comes from the improved visuals… There’s far more detail in the character models as well as the environment.”
Talking of Infinity Blade, TouchGen has already been putting the iPad 2’s new HDMI-out capabilities to the test, using the HDMI adaptor to hook the device up to a 50-inch LG HDTV to play the game. “I guarantee that anyone passing by would just assume you were playing an Xbox 360 or PS3 game,” they reckon.