iPad 3 Teardown

Apple’s latest must-have device sports a massive battery to power latest A5X processor/gpu chip.

Comments Off March 19, 2012
by Design Engineering Staff

Canadian reverse engineering firm, Chipworks — in partnership with the iFixit blog — have performed a detailed analysis of Apple’s iPad 3 4G tablet (the New iPad, in Apple parlance) released last week. After camping out at the Best Buy, the Ottawa-based company snagged one of the first iPad 3s sold in Canada and promptly began dissecting it.

According to their analysis, the iPad 3 amalgamates a number of components from the last few iDevice releases. For example its two internal cameras — both from Omnivision — have been integrated into previous products. The back-facing, HD camera originally appeared in the iPhone 4 while the low resolution forward facing image sensor is the same as that in the iPad 2.

Other components, including Broadcom’s WiFi System-on-Chip; Qualcom’s power management IC; Cirrus Logic audio codec; and a number of smaller components were first incorporated in the iPhone 4, 4S and iPad 2.

The new components, however, make this release of the popular tablet uniquely covetous. Most notable is the 264-pixels-per-inch Retina display. Measuring 2048×1536, the high density LCD made by Samsung first debuted on the iPhone 4 but is stunning at the larger size.

To drive that large display, the iPad 3 sports the A5X dual core processor with a new quad-core GPU (graphics processing unit) that the company says outperforms NVidia’s Tegra line. A step up from the iPad 2’s processor, the A5X is manufactured on Samsungs 45 nm process, but is also packs more circuitry onto an approximately 35 percent larger die.

With the heftier processor and higher graphics demand comes a larger battery. In fact, the iPad 3’s 42.5 watt-hour battery, according to iFixit, takes up the majority of the iPad 3’s interior space. While it adds 17.5 watt-hours over the iPad 2’s 25-watt-hour Li-ion battery, Apple is estimating battery life to remain the same at around 9 to 10 hours depending on LTE data network use.

For an extensive breakdown of all the iPad 3’s various components, check out iFixit.com and Chipworks respective online analyses.