Apple seems to be having one of its leakiest launches yet. No sooner have we seen what is strongly believed to be the chassis design of the iPhone 5 and heard that the screen resolution will be 1,136 x 640 than we now have some indicators of what will be powering the new phone.
A bit of investigation by 9to5mac.com into the source code for a beta version of iOS 6 has revealed that the main processor is codenamed ARM S5L8950X. This follows on from the S5L8940X on the iPhone 4S and the S5L8945X from the latest iPad.
What can we conclude from this codename? Well not a lot, truth be told. The numbering scheme gives nothing away in terms of there being a convention for the first digit denoting the number of cores, the second the generation of the ARM architecture or the third being the clock speed, for instance. There's just that one penultimate number increasing by a nominal five for each chip.
What we can speculate is that such a modest number change may indicate strong similarities between all three of these chips, which in turn would suggest the new chip is likely to be dual-core rather than quad-core. Presumably the clock speed would increase over the iPhone 4S, though there's every chance it will essentially stay identical. After all, with the only major hardware upgrade likely to be a few extra lines of pixels, there isn't a need for more power.
What is more likely to change is the graphics chip, which will require a bump in speed to power those few extra pixels. The Power VR chip identified in the same code is an SGX543RC* (the asterisk hides a character that could have identified 9to5mac's source so is scrubbed out). This is an unknown chip but only the last three letters. The SGX543 part of the code identifies it quite clearly as of the, well, SGX543 type. Admittedly this can be configured in a number of ways but what's notable is it's not exactly next generation stuff - the core design dates back to 2009.
All told, the overarching impression is that the next iPhone will have a very incremental upgrade in raw performance over the iPhone 4S. So, no great surprises there then...