Apple prepping quad-core iPad, iPhone?

Developers have spotted support for quad-core processors in Apple's Xcode, meaning it could be developing super-powerful iPads and iPhones.

Future models of iPads and iPhones will be quad-core, upping the processing power no end, if what developers have discovered is correct. Those poking around in Apple's Xcode developer tool have found it'll support quad-core ARM CPUs, meaning future versions of iPhone and iPad could well support next-generation processors.

The developers leaked the source code to ArsTechnica yesterday. The references show Apple recently added support for Marvell's quad-core ARM-based Armada XP processor. (We're not going to pretend to understand the code itself -- it looks like a computer going insane to us.) 

Whether Apple will actually use that chip or not is anyone's guess. It could use it as a placeholder until it develops its own quad-core CPU. The A5 processor found in the iPad 2 is dual-core, and the same is rumoured to be coming in the iPhone 5. Other reports have hinted Apple's next CPU will be named A6 and use 3D stacking technology, though of course Apple hasn't officially revealed anything.

But if you think that means a quad-core iPhone 5, think again. As mentioned, it's rumoured to be dual-core, as quad-core smart phones aren't due until next year (on these shores anyway), despite promises. But this could spell very exciting things indeed for the iPad 3.

Nvidia's quad-core Kal-El chip may ship next year, bringing near-desktop performance to Android devices, so Apple will obviously have something up its sleeve to compete. Other rumours say it could use a similar processor in a new MacBook Air to provide better battery life.

Apple is widening its supply base for components, using fewer of Samsung's and more of Toshiba's -- probably something to do with all those lawsuits Apple and Samsung keep slapping each other with.

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