Apple has been working on its mobile graphics chip for a few years in an attempt to reduce its dependency on Imagination Technologies, according to a Fudzilla report. The rumor makes sense as Apple already makes ARM-based CPU cores for its iOS devices.
Developing an in-house GPU would be the next logical step. In fact, it seems to already be underway. The GPU in the iPad Pro’s A9X is a semi-custom design built by Apple.
Then there’s Apple’s Metal technology, which provides the lowest-overhead access to the GPU, enabling developers to maximize the graphics and compute potential of their apps on iOS and OS X. With a streamlined application programming interface (API), precompiled shaders, and support for efficient multi-threading, Metal “can take your game or app to the next level of performance and capability,” according to Apple.
Already this year Apple has applied for several GPU-related inventions. Patent number 20150348224 involves techniques for programming graphical and computational applications to execute on a variety of graphical and computational processors. Patent number 20150347105 involves general-purpose computing on graphics processing units. Patent number 20150035841 is for a multi-threaded GPU pipeline. And there are more.
Currently, the only portion of its ecosystem chain that Apple doesn’t control is the GPU. I suspect the company wants to change that. Expect to see an Apple SoC (system on a chip) with a custom CPU and custom in-house GPU within two years.