Final Words

If Apple's A5 is any indication, Samsung's 32nm HK+MG process is extremely capable. Assuming Apple didn't change any fundamentals of its microarchitecture, the iPad 2,4's gains in battery life can be attributed directly to the process. The gains themselves are significant. We measured a 15% increase in our web browsing battery life, a nearly 30% increase in gaming battery life and an 18% increase in video playback battery life. Although Apple hasn't revised its battery life specs, the iPad 2,4 definitely lasts longer on a single charge than the original iPad 2.

If you're in the market for an iPad 2, the 2,4 is clearly the one to get - if you can find one that is. Unfortunately there's no sure fire way to tell that you're getting a 2,4 without opening the box and turning on the tablet, and I suspect most stores will get a bit irate if you're constantly buying and returning iPad 2s in search for a 32nm model. Presumably over time more of the available inventory will shift to 2,4 models, but based on our experiences in trying to find a 2,4 it's still pretty tough.

I would like to applaud Apple's 32nm migration plan. By starting with lower volume products and even then, only on a portion of the iPad 2s available on the market, Apple maintains a low profile and gets great experience with Samsung's 32nm HK+MG process. It's very clear that this is all in preparation for the next iPhone, which will almost certainly use Samsung's 32nm process and require it in significant volumes. It's obvious that Apple employs some very smart chip heads in Cupertino.

What I'd really like to see is a 32nm version of the A5X used in the new iPad. I don't know that there's much reason for that this year, especially when the 4th generation iPad will likely ship in the first half of 2013 with yet another new SoC (dual-core A15 + Rogue anyone?), but it'd still be nice to have. The power efficiency improvements are substantial and the 3rd gen iPad could definitely use them. Those of you who are waiting for the next iPhone should also be pretty happy about these results. Apple could easily deliver a higher clocked version of the A5 for the next iPhone while keeping power consumption equal to if not lower than where it's at today. The move to 32nm is going to be good all around it seems, and Samsung appears to be a very capable foundry partner for Apple. Despite all of the rumors of a rift in the relationship, the foundry side of things is working out well.

Power Consumption, Thermals & Performance
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, May 05, 2012 - link

    An update - I didn't feel settled with my response to you so I ran a sanity check against a brand new (never before discharged) 45nm iPad 2 and measured a 2.2% difference between the results (fairly normal for run to run variation) and our iPad 2,1 numbers here.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    "There's no known way to tell whether you're getting an iPad 2,4 vs. the older iPad 2,1 without opening the box. The 2,4 unit I ended up with was made in China, ruling out manufacturing region as a way of telling. The external box looks identical, as does the device itself.

    To deal with that fact, Apple is continuing to ship the original 45nm iPad 2,1 alongside the new 32nm iPad 2,4. Any hiccups in Samsung's production of the A5 and there are still more than enough iPad 2,1s to go around. The risk of moving to 32nm is effectively mitigated, while the learnings Apple gains from building the 32nm A5 will pay off later this year as Apple ramps up production of a 32nm SoC for use in the next iPhone. It's a very smart strategy, one you would expect from an experienced chip company - not a device vendor."

    Sorry, but I call this bad business. It's simply bad business for one customer to get something better than another, due to luck. It's business for people to not know what it is they're getting for their money.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    Correction: "It's bad business for people to not know what it is they're getting for their money." Reply
  • pixelstuff - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    It's only bad business if people get something worse than what they think they are getting. Reply
  • Deelron - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    They're either getting exactly what they paid for or more, I don't see any problem with that. Reply
  • ThreeDee912 - Saturday, May 05, 2012 - link

    It's the same thing Microsoft and Sony have been doing with consoles. There are literally dozens of different revisions of the 360 and PS3 with more efficient components in them, with little or no difference in the packaging. It's why Anand referenced gaming consoles in his article. Reply
  • Mrmixor - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    Incorrect. Read latest posts! Buy iPad 2,4 at will! Crushes the iPad retina in key areas! Reply
  • Xerazal - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    Serial number was DMQH98DRDFHW, not sure if that helps.

    had it exchanged without knowing it was the 32nm model, and now i have the normal ipad 2.. whats weird is that i checked the serial to see when they were both manufactured, and the 32nm ipad 2 was manufactured in March 2012 while the 45nm ipad 2 was manufactured in APRIL 2012. they still make the 45nm one i guess.. either that or this is a 32nm version, but geek bench is showing it as ipad 2 now with A5 processor?
    Reply
  • Xerazal - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    Part numbers are different. at least for black it is. Part number for old ipad is MC769LL/A while new is MC954LL/A. too bad i already exchanged my 32nm ipad out and got the 45nm model as a replacement because of light bleeding on the screen.. T~T Reply
  • pixelstuff - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    Is there a weight difference between a 2,1 and a 2,4 tablet? If so then maybe there is a weight difference in the full package.

    I suppose it is possible there are enough discrepancies in the batteries of an identical iPad model that it could make a weight reading impossible.
    Reply

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