Early Apple iPad mini (2021) benchmarks reveal downclocked CPU and GPU

17 September 2021
The new iPad mini uses an Apple A15 chipset with 5 GPU cores like the iPhone 13 Pro duo, but it seems to run at a lower clock speed.

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MagicMonkeyBoy, 17 Sep 2021Gary explains was right... This is bad from Apple. They hav... moreDo people think that Nuvia cores are going to be in smartphones?

QC bought them for the windows in ARM market, not for phones.

  • Anonymous

prasad-gsma, 17 Sep 2021Chips don't just fall into the "binned" and ... moreThis practice of underclocking and disabling cores by Apple only started this year, so it's far from standard practice. And, yes, if cores stopped working or it fails to reach a certain clock speed, it appears to be defective.

Good! Better battery life. Next subject.

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MagicMonkeyBoy, 17 Sep 2021Gary explains was right... This is bad from Apple. They hav... moreAnd none of this matters until Android SoC producers start paying top dollar for the latest TSMC process node. Samsung is basically a node behind TSMC.

Anonymous, 17 Sep 2021Well, Apple is still charging the same price for their phon... moreChips don't just fall into the "binned" and "defective" category. Binning is a standard practice across the entire silicon industry and used for all products, including desktop and laptop CPU and GPU.

An RTX 3090, 3080Ti, and 3080 all use the same GA102 GPU. Similarly, an RTX 3070Ti, 3070, and 3060Ti use the same GA104 GPU. The highest quality chip becomes the 3090 or the 3070Ti. Slightly worse chips become the 3080Ti or 3070 and so on. This doesn't mean the GPU inside the 3080 or the 3060Ti are "defective".

Similarly, the Ryzen 3 3300x and the 3600 were the same CPU essentially, with the 3300x having two cores that didn't work. That doesn't mean the 3300x was "defective".

Apple isn't selling defective products. No silicone wafer comes out perfect but making use of the available wafer and repurposing the ones that are below spec is perfectly normal and standard practice in the industry. The iPad mini 2021 A15 simply didn't meet the minimum spec set for the iPhone 13 Pro but it's not far off, either. This means the ones that did go inside the iPhone 13 Pro and especially the iPhone 13 Pro Max are the highest quality A15 chips that Apple manufacturers.

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It's the usual binning procedure, every company does it. Qualcomm bins their best 888 chips as 888+, RTX3080 has a defective GA102, RX6800 has a defective Navi 21 etc.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 17 Sep 2021Well, Apple is still charging the same price for their phon... moreTo lure geeks to Pro Models.
Despite the fact daily tasks will have zero difference.

  • Anonymous

Tablet that is much larger than phones and do not need cooling system has cpu with lower clock than cellphone?

LOL .....

  • Anonymous

Kangal, 17 Sep 2021TL;DR - It's for $$$, and makes less eWaste. It... moreWell, Apple is still charging the same price for their phones so whatever argument you have as being good for the consumer is flawed. I don't doubt it's good for Apple's bottom line though as they putting defective chips in people's phones and tablets and selling them at the same prices.

Anonymous, 17 Sep 2021Why are binning different versions of the same chip? This i... moreTL;DR - It's for $$$, and makes less eWaste.

It's for Quality Control.
Any chip which doesn't cut the mustard, instead of throwing it in the bin, they get repurposed for a different or cheaper device. The larger size of the chip, the more likely it will have defects or simply worse voltage control. So from one wafer, if they can theoretically get 1000 chips, in reality, they more likely get 600 great chips, and another 200 good/worse chips, and 200 defective units. The broken units are thrown away, whilst the "worse" chips are still good to be used as long as certain areas are closed off (eg 4CU vs 5CU for the iGPU) and/or the clockspeed is reduced (eg 2021 iPad Mini vs 2021 iPhone 13 Max).

CPU manufacturers have been doing it forever. It's mostly popular when it comes to graphics cards, where they use the same GPU but with modified drivers which disables the broken/poor areas of the die. It also helps the OEM to not lose the silicon and in-turn still make a profit. So that's good for the environment, and the lower prices are good for the consumers.

  • Anonymous

Why are binning different versions of the same chip? This is so weird.

MagicMonkeyBoy, 17 Sep 2021Gary explains was right... This is bad from Apple. They hav... moreAlright, calm down.
Apple's devices are more superior in a technical-sense, it is not the end of the world. The Apple Silicon from a hardware point is better. The software on iOS (ie Latest Swift and Metal) are very efficient. Android is mainly using Javascript with some C++ thrown in there, and it supports Vulkan. Overall, the software gives the hardware a huge advantage. The gaming phones you list serve a certain niche, but they are no match for iPhones. It is not fair comparing the performance of the latest iPhone to the latest Android Flagship, the iPhone has been winning by a wide-margin ever since the iPhone 5S. If you watched Gary Explains, you should already know this.

As an example, in 2020 Apple's iPhone used the A14-Bionic chipset. It has 2 "BIG" cores, 4 "Medium" cores, and 0 "small" cores. The Medium cores are nicknamed Icestorm. Based on the extensive testing by Anandtech, we see their medium cores are actually FASTER than the Cortex-A75 cores BUT they in-fact use LESS POWER than the small Cortex-A53 cores. No matter how to slice it.... that is stupidly impressive! And now we have the A15 chipset, which likely is even better.

So after saying all this, you would think I would use an iPhone. Nope. I use a OnePlus. There is more to a phone than just raw speed. But I am not ashamed to tell it like it is. I just wish that Apple's successes here inspires the Android-Market to innovate more.

Also with the ARMv9 cores coming out next year. Based on the (best case scenario) projected stats, we are barely seeing a performance increase. So realistically, next year's flagship phones will use more power and they will be slower. What is even more sad, is that we had great performance with the QSD 855... but most phones today struggle to exceed it due to thermal limits. So for all practical purposes, the QSD 778/780/860/865/865+/870/888/888+ (that is EIGHT chipsets) actually perform the same, which is, not much of an upgrade over the old 855. So 2022's flagships will be one of the worst upgrades ever, similar to 2015 if you remember, comparing the QSD 800/801/805 to the likes of the QSD 808/810. The silver lining is that this is a poor attempt, but merely the first-generation ARMv9 built by the Americans. The second-gen will be designed by the European Team of ARM who have a more successful track-record. So think of it like the Cortex-A57 versus the Cortex-A73.

  • GAGE

MagicMonkeyBoy, 17 Sep 2021Gary explains was right... This is bad from Apple. They hav... moreYou missed the point. A14 9500 vs A15 14300 GPU = + 50% PERFORMANCE.
Singlecore CPU = M1 (better than all x86 AMD / INTEL)
Multicore = + 8% vs A14 / ~ + 50% against the best Android SOC.
Android SOCs can improve performance between 15% and 25% at most, but they are still behind 25% and that in the next 6 months.
I'm an Android user, I'm not interested in Apple, but Apple's leadership in SOC is indisputable.

Trooper, 17 Sep 2021More money for less performance. Sound's about right f... moreThe iPad mini (2021) is $500, $650 if you want 5G, while the iPhone 13 mini is $700 (and the others are more expensive). So, the iPad mini is the cheapest Apple A15 device right now.

So the newer A15 is more like M1(-2 cpu core and -3 gpu core) with that 3.23Ghz P core clock.
Without a proper thermal cooling system, the A15 will throttle badly in the iPhone 13 models.
Maybe the A15 in the new iPad mini 6 gives more stable performance.

  • Anonymous

domraym, 17 Sep 2021Yikes aren’t tablets supposed to perform better even withou... moreYeah it's really weird. Tablets have more surface area and yet they use the weaker silicon.

Gary explains was right... This is bad from Apple. They have really gone backwards. Basically. The A15 is just a tweaked at best A14 and for the upper models. A 19% GPU due to an extra core for the GPU. Apple really. Actually has gone downhill. And the most critical architects for Apple have joined Team Droid. Such as Gerald who used to be apples key silicon designer. He left apple in 2019. And took 2 years for apple to feel that impact. He set up a company called Nuvia. And Qualcomm bought the company. And soon will also use Nuvia cores. To be honest. It's pretty obvious this year that Droid SoC's will make the biggest leap forward yet. They will be either almost equal. Or slightly under par. And in other ways. Far more advanced. I am far more excited with the bigger moves from androids SoC's... Such as incread cache. Brand new cores. Both A510s and A710s and the beefed up X2 single cores. Also the significantly upgraded GPUs. AMD... Also... There is so much. Android have the biggest upgrade. And there power to sustainability is superior to Apple. And in this case. We are about to see the biggest leaps yet from Android. Even if the SoC's are slightly under par vs apple bench marks. I can assure you... Your far better off with droids SoCs...

Use an android gaming device. With powerful cooling. And you will see... Apple just can't compete at all on that principle. I know this as a red magic user against pro maxes. And they struggle big time. My gaming phone is like cruise control... Whilst Apple devices actually became a safety hazard... Although possible to still handle the iPhone with oven gloves...

no shiit sherlock, you think apple will sell you a better option at lower price?

Yikes aren’t tablets supposed to perform better even without cooling because of its better size for heat dissipation? The 13 pro might fry an egg if you game at 120 htz lol

  • Trooper

More money for less performance. Sound's about right for Apple...