The code used within new versions of Apple's iOS has revealed some interesting tidbits of information in the past, like most recently when references to a new iPhone model 5,1 were discovered in the iOS 5.1 beta code, and today that trend continues. After digging through the latest beta version of iOS 5.1, 9to5Mac discovered a reference that reads "/cores/core.3," which it claims indicates that support for quad-core processors is being baked in to the OS. The site explains that a "/cores/core.0" reference is an indication of single-core processor like the one found in the iPhone 4 and iPad, while "/cores/core.1" points toward a dual-core CPU like what's present in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2. 9to5Mac adds that Apple is rumored to be prepping an A6 quad-core processor and that such chips may be ready for action sometime this year.
Keeping up with the iOS rumor mill, a report out of Digitimes today suggests that Apple is planning to launch the iPad 3 in March. The new tablet will reportedly pack a 2048x1536 display and extended battery life. With the arrival of the new iPad, Apple is expected to slash the price of the iPad 2 to $399. Those claims are all reasonable considering that Apple launched the iPad 2 in March 2011 and is known to follow a yearly refresh cycle with iOS products. However, Digitimes' sources also claim that Apple is planning to unveil an iPad 4 that'll allegedly include "much upgraded hardware specifications," a rumor that's just a bit harder to believe.
So when might we see quad-core processors beginning to pop up in Apple's iDevices? Considering that Apple jumped from single-core CPUs in the iPhone 4 and iPad to dual-core processors in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, as well as the fact that Android devices are starting to appear with quad-core processors in tow, it's possible that we'll see a quad-core chip powering the new iPad that's rumored to be arriving in March. Of course, the appearance of "/cores/core.3" in the iOS 5.1 beta doesn't guarantee that a quad-core iDevice is right around the corner, but it's still exciting for the iOS crowd to learn that support for such processors are being worked into Apple's platform.