New iPad Pro 2021 A14X chip spotted in Apple code, hinting at close launch

More evidence of the new iPad Pro being imminent builds, this time thanks to the latest iPadOS beta

New iPad Pro 2021 A14X processor
(Image credit: Apple)

Adding even more fuel to the raging inferno of rumours that a new iPad Pro 2021 models is about to arrive, a reference to the new processor that will power it has been spotted in the latest iOS beta.

That's according to 9to5Mac, which found a mention of a new graphics processor in the iOS 14.5 beta, suggesting that the new hardware is close enough to release to warrant including the current software, rather than waiting for iOS/iPadOS 15.

9to5Mac says that the name for this new GPU, 13G, fits with previous naming conventions, strongly indicating that it's for an A14X chip. The 'X' line of chips used in iPad Pro models are usually beefed up versions of the equivalent iPhone chip with the same name – in this case, the A14 chip in the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Air (2020).

Initially, the defining characteristic of the X models was more graphics power, and though we still expect that to be the case with the A14X, the last X chip (the A12X) also offered much stronger CPU performance and more RAM, and we'd expect more of the same there, too.

In fact, 9to5Mac reports that it has also confirmed that the new A14X is "based on" the M1 chip in the latest MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and 13-inch MacBook Pro (M1, 2020). It's not entirely clear what this means, but the M1 chip isn't just an iPhone/iPad chip with more processor cores: Apple changed the architecture in a few key places, seemingly to push it more towards high performance.

Even if the A14X chip is 'just' a souped-up version of the iPhone chip rather than being closer to the Mac processors, it should still be a big leap forward in performance compared to the current iPad Pro, which still runs the A12X (remember that the A12 processor that chip was based on debuted in the 2.5-years-old iPhone XS).

Earlier reports that Apple was planning an event in March look like they won't come to pass at this point, but here's hoping for an April shower of new iPad Pros, iMacs and maybe even AirPods 3.