When Apple announced that the iPad 2 was going to drop to the $399 price point, they forgot to mention a minor thing that changed under the hood. The original iPad 2, which launched in March ’11, featured an A5 chip, that combined the CPU and GPU on a 45nm chip design. This meant that the chip wasted a small amount of energy, space and power that could have been used to drive iOS.
The new iPad 2, referring to the $399 iPad, features a new 32nm process for the chip design. This made the chip nearly half the size, and made room for Apple to increase the size of the internals. However, the big gain in switching from 45nm to 32nm is speed and efficiency.
Though the 32nm chip found in the new iPad 2 is smaller, and more efficient, it still scores similarly to the 45nm chip found in the old iPad 2. Scoring roughly the same in web browsing, graphics, and the Geekbench tests, which were conducted by Macworld. Many people won’t even notice a speed difference in day to day usage, even with the new chip design.
They also put the devices through battery tests, but the difference was so minuscule, that it didn’t really prove that the new chip was more power efficient. In some of the speed tests, the old iPad’s 45nm design beat the new design.
Even though you may not notice it, the new $399 iPad 2 features a new A5 chip that is a more efficient use of space. What’s interesting is the chip in the new iPad 2 is the same chip that can be found in the Apple TV (3rd generation). Using the same chip for both products allows Apple to cut overhead costs and keep a small set of chips powering its iOS devices.