Macworld, along with a few other sources, have uncovered the fact that Apple has heavily customized the GPU in the iPhone 7. It has been no secret that after Apple announced their own custom CPU’s, they have be acquiring graphics chip talent at a voracious pace. As history has shown us before, this usually means they have plans to bring all of their GPU work in-house.
Some will argue that this is a cost-saving move, because now they will not have to pay for the technology. I’d argue that increasing head count, benefits expenditure, etc. costs way more than licensing some designs and technology. Its why companies, I’d argue to their detriment, outsource things like IT staff. On top of that, I’m sure they would still have to license someones IP as Apple itself does not have any patents regarding graphics processing. I doubt they would be able to somehow engineer a solution that will not run afoul of the current technology leaders in this space.
Control and Leadership
I believe that this is more of a control play. Much like they caught the mobile processor space off guard with a production ready 64 bit solution, they wish to increase the performance/power lead in the graphics space with something their competitors can’t also license. I’m sure this will also help them control some of the leaks around new technology as well. This could prove fruitful as we know VR is becoming the next “big thing”, and GPU tech is what is needed to make it possible on mobile, and the desktop. Another possibility is that they want to use this same tech in their desktops instead of relying on AMD/Nvidia for their middling mobile solutions.
Only time will tell how this plays out. Macworld: http://www.macworld.com/article/3146630/mobile/the-mysteries-of-the-gpu-in-apples-iphone-7-are-unlocked.html#tk.rss_all