Apple rarely divulges the full hardware specifications of its iOS devices. Such details are often uncovered only through benchmark testing and in-depth analysis once products hit the market. Every now and again, however, some benchmark results slip out ahead of time (likely from reviewers that get iDevices early to review) which appears to be the case today.

As Apple Insider points out, details on an "iPad5,4" (iPad Air 2 with LTE) were recently published on two different benchmarking sites. The results suggest the A8X inside the iPad Air 2 is a triple-core affair with 2GB of RAM on tap. For comparison, the standard A8 chip inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is a dual-core component with just 1GB of RAM.

An extra gig of RAM and another processing core doesn't sound like much when you consider today's top Android devices are powered by highly-clocked quad-core processors with 3GB of RAM. But because Apple designs both its hardware and software in-house, their devices are more efficient and have been able to compete with just two cores and 1GB or less of RAM.

All we know for sure about the A8X is what Apple has mentioned thus far - it is CPU is 40 percent faster and its GPU is 2.5x faster. But if legitimate, the benchmark results suggest Apple has made some pretty substantial hardware changes to the upcoming iPad Air 2.

Given Apple's somewhat obvious plan to phase out its iPad mini, I wouldn't be surprised if the tri-core A8X chip in the iPad Air 2 is a precursor to what we might see in Apple's rumored large-screen iPad. If Apple does indeed plan to launch a bigger tablet (iPad Pro / iPad Plus) with a 12.9-inch display, it'd no doubt need some additional power to compete with Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.