Apple is upping the ante against Android, as developer code reveals the possible quad-core processors in its next-generation smartphones and tablets.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has embedded support for quad-core chips in source code revealed in its Xcode developer tool. The code indicates support for Marvell’s quad-core ARM-based Armada XP processor.
“A developer who works on low-level ARM assembly coding for security products was the first to alert Ars that support had been added for Armada’s Cortex A9-compatible processors in the latest version of Xcode (a claim that we later confirmed first-hand),” said Chris Foresman of Ars Technica.
Foresman speculated that Apple was likely using the Marvell chip in prototypes of future iPhones and iPads as a placeholder while it designs its own proprietary next-generation processor. Apple uses its own chips, developed from designs by U.K.-based chip designer ARM.
The code references, however, could also signal the company may shift to using Marvell chips in future iOS devices, or even a next-generation MacBook Air.
Apple’s use of quad-core processors will not happen for its forthcoming iPhone 5 device, set to launch on October 4. The iPhone 5 is believed to use Apple’s A5 dual-core chip, which is also used in Apple’s iPad tablet device.
However, quad-core processors in the followups to the iPhone 5 and iPad 2 may help Apple keep apace with similar advances in chips for Android phones. Nvidia’s quad-core Kal-El chip may ship next year, which would bring near-desktop performance to Android devices.
Qualcomm also will roll out a 2.5-gigahertz quad-core processor in 2012 as well, which may find widespread usage in Android devices.
Both chips may be used inside Android devices, as well as Windows Phone handsets.
Quad-core chips would expand the speed and capabilities of mobile devices, turning handsets into powerful conduits for computing, productivity and media consumption. As consumers shift increasingly to smartphones and tablets, Apple will power up its popular devices to keep up with its rivals, who will soon have a slate of fast, robust next-generation chips to choose from.
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