iPad Pro 2020's 'new' A12Z chip isn't very new at all

iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple makes a big deal about the power of its tablets, but the new iPad Pro 2020 chip is pretty much just a recycled and tweaked version of silicon from the 2018 model.

That’s according to a deep dive conducted by chip analysis specialist TechInsights, which found that the Apple’s A12Z chip in the 2020 iPad Pro is identical to the A12X in the third-generation iPad Pro, only with an extra graphics accelerator core. 

In this case, it would look like Apple unlocked an extra GPU core on the A12X, which comes with seven graphics cores, to create an octa-core GPU to go alongside the eight-core CPU of the A12Z. 

Our iPad Pro 2020 review noted that Apple's latest high-end tablet delivers a mild hike in performance over the 2018 model, which could be partially thanks to the additional GPU core. It’s hardly a night-and-day performance difference. But for people keen on playing graphically intensive mobile games, that little bit of extra power could be appreciated. 

However, people with a 2018 iPad Pro might not see much of a benefit from upgrading to the 2020 tablet, unless they are particularly keen on the dual camera and LiDAR setup the iPad Pro 2020 has. But if you’re using an older 10.5-inch iPad Pro from 2017, you’re more likely to benefit from an upgrade to the 2020 iPad Pro. 

With iOS 14 on its way, there’s a chance that the extra graphical headroom the new iPad Pro has could be put to use. Given Apple seems to be leaning heavily into the LiDAR capabilities of the 2020 iPad Pro, and such capabilities could come over to the iPhone 12, we’d not be surprised to see a swath of augmented reality features get further baked into iOS 14. 

Apple is also set to add a fully-fledged widget system into iOS 14, which could use the extra graphical grunt of the A12Z chip to make various animations and real-time content in the widgets look more attractive and slick. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.