iPad Mini Ships Today – Runs on an Underclocked A7 Chip

Apple's hot new 7.9" tablet ships today and if early reports are correct it is a lesson in how not all chips are created equal.

While some might say that the iPad Mini is what you get if you take the iPad Air, stick it into a smaller case, and knock $100 off the price, it turns out that this tablet isn't quite the equal of the iPad Air.

iPad Mini Ships Today - Runs on an Underclocked A7 Chip e-Reading Hardware

Sure, it has a similar screen resolution (2048 x 1536), the same iOS 7, front and rear cameras, and it even has the same incredibly powerful A7 chip (4 times as good as its predecessor). But it turns out that the chip in the iPad Mini isn't running at the same clock speed as the iPad Air. The larger tablet’s A7 processor runs at 1.4GHz, while the iPad Mini is showing up in benchmarks as running at 1.29GHz.

That's the same speed as the A7 chip in the iPhone 5s, which might be a clue as to the difference. I would bet that Apple set the processors in the iPad Mini and the iPhone 5s to run slower in order to  reduce the chances that the devices will overheat when running under a heavy load. The iPad Air, on the other hand, has a larger mass to act as a heat sink. The increase in waste heat probably won't be noticeable.

You can find the iPad Mini on the Apple website and on a few other retail sites. I'm not sure if it is in stores yet.

 

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

5 Comments

  1. New Name Same Guy12 November, 2013

    Oooo. Probably calibrated for the battery and to prevent device over heating. Zzzzzzz

    Reply
  2. Patrick Perez12 November, 2013

    Another reason could be that due to the smaller battery they are mitigating run time. The two screens (Mini and Air) have to push the same number of pixels, which is a drag on the gpu, disproportionately more so on the Mini. All else equal, a Mini with fewer pixels wold run longer on the same battery.

    Patrick

    Reply
  3. David12 November, 2013

    I like the part where you write a headline with words that have a negative association. Let’s ignore the part where the new iPad mini runs four times faster than the previous model. Instead let’s claim that the it’s an inferior product because it runs at the same speed as the new iPhone 5S.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder12 November, 2013

      Negative association? I don’t see it that way.

      Underclocked is not the same thing as underpowered. The latter is a criticism while the former is a technical term for a common industry practice. Many companies limit the abilities of their chips in order to reduce battery drain, extend the chip’s lifespan, and for other valid engineering reasons.

      But since you are bothered by it I have added a mention of the fact the new chip is more powerful.

      Reply

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