There's very little question that Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 6 will be the mother of all iPhone releases. Even with its 4-inch display, the prior-generation iPhone 5s has been selling like hotcakes, helping to drive Apple's stock price significantly up from the lows made in early 2013. With larger screens, along with a host of other goodies, the iPhone 6 models that hit the shelves are poised to do even better than the iPhone 5s did.
With that in mind, there's one secret potentially lurking inside the iPhone 6 that nobody's talking about.
Apple, chips, and the user experience
Apple typically avoids the spec war, instead striving to make the proper technical choices subject to cost and technological constraints. This means that although Apple might not be able to list things like "octa core," its products offer class leading performance in the usage models that matter. This desire to maximize the user experience is precisely why Apple designs its own chips.
One of the key features of the chips that Apple designs is top-shelf graphics performance. Not only does Apple typically splurge in using the latest and greatest graphics IP from Imagination Technologies (NASDAQOTH:IGNMF), but its software teams also typically do a superb job in maximizing the efficiency of its graphics drivers. In short, Apple not only uses the best chip technology available, but it also does everything it can to squeeze every last bit of performance out of it.
So, what's this stunning feature?
As part of the next-generation iPhone and iPad products, Apple will almost surely equip them with a system-on-a-chip dubbed the A8. The big question is just what the A8 is going to look like. In a previous piece, I speculated that Apple could be using Imagination Technologies' PowerVR Series 6XT as the graphics processor in the A8. However, Apple may use the A8 as a launch vehicle for something relatively new.
Indeed, Apple has been showing signs that it has built -- and continues to add to -- its in-house graphics processor design team for quite some time. Though the timing of the deployment of the first graphics processor designed by this team is uncertain, it could be as early as the A8. If so, Apple could gain a significant performance and power advantage over the off-the-shelf Imagination Technology designs (even if these GPU designs leverage Imagination IP, as implied by Imagination's February announcement vis-a-vis Apple).
Foolish bottom line
The Apple A8, like most of Apple's chips in recent history, is likely full of surprises. It wouldn't be a bit surprising to see Apple launch its very first custom graphics processor in this fall's A8. However, if Apple's custom graphics processor isn't quite ready for prime-time this fall, the PowerVR Series 6XT -- Imagination's latest graphics processor -- would still be quite potent implemented in a modern 20-nanometer manufacturing technology.