By Stephen Schenck | September 23, 2011 12:40 PM
Smartphones are inevitably inching-closer towards quad-core chips. While not every platform will see phones built around such chips (at least not straight away), nor every manufacturer jump at the chance to release quad-core handsets, it’s something that everyone is going to have to think about at some point. Apple’s a company that holds its cards awfully close to its chest, so it can be very difficult to get a strong sense of its future plans, but some evidence has been uncovered suggesting the company is at least experimenting with mobile devices built around quad-core chipsets.
The clue comes from the Clang compiler used in Apple’s Xcode tools, where a developer discovered code related to CPU optimization had gained support for the Armada XP, a Marvell-made quad-core ARM chipset. Notes in the source code suggest that only in-house Apple versions of Clang are built with Armada XP optimizations enabled.
None of this means that Apple is actually planning to release a new iPhone or iPad containing a Marvell chip, but it could mean that Apple is using the Armada XP as a placeholder while it prototypes such hardware, later to be replaced by one of Apple’s own A-series chips. Such a device could still be a year or two out, if Apple even decides to go ahead with a quad-core system.