For an educational deconstruction of the Apple iPad, the experts at iFixit and Chipworks used a variety of methods (scanning electron microscopes, acid baths, X-raying, grinding and extreme force) to take apart the brains of an iPad and show us what makes it tick.
Here's what they found inside Apple's miracle device.
Removing the processor from the main board, using the brute force method. Photo: iFixit and Chipworks
What did iFixit and Chipworks find inside the iPad? First off, the A4 processor powering the iPad has three distinct layers: the microprocessor itself and two layers of Samsung RAM. Layering the RAM on top of the processor allows Apple to buy memory from any vendor, not just Samsung.
Photo: iFixit and Chipworks
The above cross-section is of the iPhone's ARM processor and RAM package, showing the processor (centre rectangle), as well as RAM dies (two upper rectangles to the right). The three circles are solder beads. Having the RAM close to the processor makes RAM access faster and thus reduces latency. It also makes your battery last longer by cutting power consumption.
How about the GPU? Preliminary software analysis confirms that the iPad is powered by the PowerVR SGX 535 GPU, the same one that drives the iPhone 3GS. As iFixit says: "There's nothing revolutionary here."
The iPad's processor is very similar to the one that's in the iPhone, which makes it easier for Apple to cut both power consumption as well as cost when designing and building the iPad. For the rest of the details, as well as some slick images, check out iFixit.
The iPad's A4 ARM processor. Photo: iFixit and Chipworks
Chip specs aside, is the iPad really just a big iPod touch with a few more killer apps? Have you done any iPad deconstruction of your own? Let us know how it went in the comments.