The new iOS 5.1 beta proves that Apple is indeed planning on shipping iPhones and iPads with quad-core chips in the near future, which is no big surprise because we’ve all been expecting an upgraded processor in the next generation iPad anyway.
A quad-core chip makes sense, in light of the Asus Transformer Prime which sports a quad-core Tegra 3 NVIDIA processor. While the info doesn’t explicitly confirm or indicate a quad-core processor for the next generation iPad, it does confirm that Apple is working on quad-core devices.
Apple’s first generation iPad had a single core A4 processor, and the iPad 2 has a dual-core-speed A5 processor. In the iOS 5.1 beta, there’s recently updated processing-core management software supporting the A5 that the iPad and iPhone currently use, and new quad-core processing.
In the core management software, there’s an option for “/cores/core.3,” and according to 9to5 Mac, core references begin at zero. A single core device would read “/cores/core.0,” while dual-core (the A5) would read “/cores/core.1.” The three in the description indicates support for four cores, and strongly implies that a quad-core processor is in the works.
Also, it should be noted that Apple is currently using iOS 5.1 as the test software on the iPad 3, and that a quad-core processor may be necessary to power the high resolution display that the next generation iPad is rumored to use. A quad-core iPad will be able to run advanced software, games, and interface elements at a rapid speed, and would be a major upgrade to the tablet.