Hold on to your hats -- things might get fast!
Chip technologist Imagination Technologies (OTC: IGNMF) says that its next mobile processor design is about 20 times faster than the last one. The last iteration, in turn, beats its predecessor by a factor of 9. You can run benchmarks side by side on the Apple
Not just any old benchmark, of course. You'd need one that focuses exclusively on high-performance graphics. Imagination's designs under the PowerVR brand do the magic behind 3-D graphics handling and other pixel-pushing on many of today's smartphones.
PowerVR's tile-based technology did more with less raw horsepower, and was always more efficient than traditional rendering methods espoused by NVIDIA
Instead, PowerVR has become a powerhouse in mobile graphics, where ultra-efficient operations and low power draws count for more than muscular pixel shaders and billions of triangles computed per second. In this market, NVIDIA has decided to shift gears into designing central processors rather than graphics solutions. AMD fired a perfectly capable CEO over his lack of mobile ambition. So now, this little British firm has the smartphone and tablet graphics market pretty much all to itself. Not a bad trade-off, I'd say.
As I said, Apple has adopted this solution for its mobile needs these days, including the last two iPhone and iPad generations. Likewise, the technology powers a plethora of Android devices from the Droid Bionic to Nexus S.
In search for a capable graphics solutions for its popular OMAP processor line, Texas Instruments
So yeah, the next iPhone will probably be 20 times faster than the 4S -- but only in terms of graphics power. Will this dramatic jump move iPhones beyond casual gaming in an explosion of glorious 3-D polygons? It's a rib-tickling possibility, but only time will truly tell, so add Apple to your watchlist to keep an eye on that situation. This trillion-dollar market can surely support more than a few suppliers.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Texas Instruments and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and NVIDIA, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple and writing puts on NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.