9to5Mac did some deep digging into the iOS 5.1 beta and found references to quad-core chips that, we imagine, will eventually – and hopefully soon – make their way into the iPhone and iPad.
The references to quad-core iPhone and iPad chips come by way of a hidden panel that describes cores that are supported by iOS device hardware. The updated core management software includes an option of “/cores/core.3,” and this represents a fourth available processing core.
Extremely reliable and knowledgeable people familiar with iOS’s inner workings explained to me that core references begin at “0.” For example: A single core device would be limited to ”/cores/core.0,” and a dual-core device would come in at ”/cores/core.1.” A “core.2″ (which is not referenced in iOS code) would be a triple-core processor according to this labeling method. iOS 5.1 beta 2 now includes core.3, a seemingly quad-core chip from Apple.
While these references do provide clues as to Apple’s future plans, they obviously don’t give us a timeline as to when we might see quad-core chips gracing our iOS devices. But as 9to5Mac notes, 2012 seems as good a year as any for the quad-core treatment. After all, Apple began with a single core chip in 2010 before moving to a dual-core A5 in 2011. A quad-core A6 would certainly fall in line.
Also, Asus just released a quad core Android Tablet and it is unlikely that Apple would let Android tablets get a year out in front before matching the hardware.
The implications of an iOS device with a quad-core processor are vast. A quad-core processor can help devices power very high-resolution displays (such as the rumored iPad 3 with a Retina Display), and even power very advanced software like a rumored Final Cut Pro for iOS. Overall, a quad-core processor should add extra horsepower to gaming and overall operating system navigation, and —as we saw with the iPhone 4S— it will likely make actions like snapping photographs work even quicker.