The next generation iPads and iPhones are expected to feature powerful quad-core processors, according to a recent report that claimed finding references in the latest iOS 5.1 beta.

The report published Friday by 9to5Mac has said that the latest iOS 5.1 beta contains updated processing-core management software that supports both dual-core processing enabled by the A5 iPhone and iPad chip and quad-core processing.

The report stated, citing an extremely reliable and knowledgeable people familiar with iOS's inner workings, that references to quad-core iPhone and iPad chips were found in a hidden panel that describes cores that are supported by iOS device hardware.

Although the report didn't confirm that a quad-core processor would power the forthcoming version of the iPad, it stretched on the fact that the evidence obtained did suggest that the fruit company was currently working on quad-core iOS devices.

According to the report, with core references beginning at 0, a single core device would be designated /cores/core.0, a dual-core device would be referred to as /cores/core.1 and a core.2″ (not referred in iOS 5.1 code) would be a triple-core processor.

The updated processing-core management software includes an option of /cores/core.3, which represents a fourth available processing core. If the above mentioned labeling method is to be followed, core.3 could be the new quad-core chip from Apple.

The report deduced from this that the Cupertino-tech giant's next-generation ARM-based chip (A6 or whatever it might be called) will be a quad-core processor.

We cannot conclude that due to iOS 5.1 including quad-core processor references, Apple's next-generation iPad and iPhone will include a quad-core chip, but it seems reasonable based on Apple starting with a single core chip in 2010 and moving to dual-core in 2011, said the report. A quad-core chip in 2012 would fit the pattern.

Rumors are rife that iPad 3, which is due in the first half of this year, will feature a QXGA, 2048x1536 retina display and a quad-core processor can help the device power such high-resolution displays.

Another report by CNET, citing sources familiar with Apple's chip strategy, also stated that Apple is going quad-core with its next A6 chip. According to the sources, Samsung will make (or is making) that processor either in South Korea or at its Austin, Texas facility.