Despite sporting slightly thinner bezels, a much brighter screen and the typical performance improvements over 2016’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro, it’s probably safe to say this year’s 10.5-inch release left even hardcore iFans largely underwhelmed.

But the 2018 iPad Pro lineup is widely expected to “borrow” the super-complex Face ID recognition method from Apple’s rapidly spreading iPhone X, and next year’s “typical” processing speed upgrades also sound pretty impressive and special.

At least according to supply chain sources over in Taiwan, the in-house-designed Apple A11X chip is set to take a big production leap from a 10 nanometer node to 7nm technology. Long-time semiconductor partner TSMC will obviously be in charge of the SoC’s actual manufacturing, eyeing a significant performance and energy efficiency enhancement over both the A10X inside 2017 iPad Pros, and the iPhone X and 8’s A11 Bionic.

And yes, you should count on the A11X being a “Bionic” affair too, including not just an octa-core CPU, M11 motion coprocessor and unknown GPU, but also a neural engine or NPU (Neural Processing Unit).

The latter will help with secure and accurate facial authentication, as well as (presumably) improved augmented reality features, and in case you need us to refresh your memory, both the A10X and A11 use hexa-core CPUs.

The next-gen central processing unit of Apple’s A11X SoC will reportedly consist of a rather unusual combination of three high-performance Monsoon and five low-energy Mistral cores. Now, it’s not as easy these days to guess the iPad release timeline as a couple of years back, but the likeliest ETA for 2018 iPad Pros is May or June.

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