Hidden source code found within the latest version of Xcode contains support for Marvell’s quad-core Armada XP ARM processor, leading to speculation that Apple may abandon its custom systems-on-a-chip and use Marvell’s chip for future iPhones & iPads.
There are a number of possibilities for why this code was included in Xcode. Apple could well be considering Marvell processors for future iDevices, but it may be more likely that they’re merely using Marvell’s quad-core processors to test prototype versions of iOS devices prior to the upcoming A6 chip being ready for testing.
As Ars Technica points out,
…most probable in our opinion, is that Apple is using the Marvell chip in prototypes of future iOS device designs (or even an ARM-based MacBook Air that is rumored to exist somewhere inside One Infinite Loop) for testing purposes. An Armada XP-powered prototype logic board would allow iOS or Mac OS X software engineers to experiment with performance tuning and other optimizations, while Apple’s hardware design team—comprised largely of former PA Semi and Intrinsity engineers—could continue working on a possible quad-core ARM design to be manufactured somewhere down the road.
This is likely just evidence that Apple’s A6 chips (which will probably be quad-core if they’re testing prototypes with quad-core Marvell chips) aren’t yet ready for testing in prototype devices, but it would be unwise at this point to assume that Apple is abandoning their A-Series processors in favor of Marvell chips.