“Apple surprised us by announcing it was launching a fourth-generation iPad just seven months after it rolled out the Retina display-equipped third-generation iPad in March,” Chris Foresman reports for Ars Technica. “Though externally it remains almost identical to the third-gen iPad—save its new Lightning connector, which replaces the 30-pin Dock connector—internally Apple has revved up its processor.”

“We spent the weekend with an iPad 4 and iPad 3 in the Orbiting HQ, benchmarking the new processor and spending time in various apps to see if Apple’s performance claims held up,” Foresman reports. “Overall, it seems as though we can take Apple at their word. But depending on the apps you use, you may not notice a tons of improvement until developers learn to better exploit the A6X processor’s power.”

Foresman reports, “What’s perhaps a bit surprising is the dual-core A6X can more than keep up with the ARM-based quad-core Tegra3 (such as found in the Google Nexus 7 or Microsoft Surface). The ‘Swift’ core is using a slightly revised design similar in some respects to the Cortex A9 in the A5X and Tegra3. It uses an optimized memory architecture that moves data in, out, and around the cores much faster than most ARM-based mobile processors. The end result is that Apple’s processors seem to be getting more performance from two slightly faster clocked cores than other devices running four cores.”

Much more in the full article here.