Wednesday, July 22nd 2020

NVIDIA Interested in Acquiring Arm from SoftBank

The biggest tech news story from last week was Japan's SoftBank contemplating the sale of Arm, one of the hottest pieces of tech IP out there. Turns out, this has piqued NVIDIA's interest. The graphics and scalar compute giant recently surpassed Intel in market capitalization, and has the resources to pull off what could end up being the biggest tech acquisition in history. When it was acquired by SoftBank, Arm Holdings valued at $32 billion, and it's only conceivable that the firm's current valuation is significantly higher for SoftBank to dangle it out in the market. NVIDIA is already an Arm licensee, and following its acquisition of Mellanox, has stated intent to go big in the datacenter industry.
Source: Bloomberg
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53 Comments on NVIDIA Interested in Acquiring Arm from SoftBank

#1
Xex360
A way to re-enter the phone market, maybe with an nVidia phone.
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#2
Punkenjoy
Expect a 100 billions deals.

Also, Arms will be everywhere in the future, not just in phone. This would give Nvidia the ability to compette against AMD and Intel who both do CPU + GPU

But i suspect they won't be alone there, and i wouldn't be surprised if they go public instead for even more money.
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#3
Xzibit
Thats if they stick to the current licensing model. Nvidia doesn't like sharing. Depending on who they sell to people who license arm will be jumping ship
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#4
Caring1
It would be interesting if Nvidia aquired Arm and Apple changes to Arm Processors and has to pay license fees.
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#5
renz496
Xex360
A way to re-enter the phone market, maybe with an nVidia phone.
nvidia will not going to do that. they know what is the most important thing to have in phone market and they don't have that required tech. only few company in world have it. hence why intel fail to make a foot in smartphone market after wasting billions.
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#6
watzupken
Caring1
It would be interesting if Nvidia aquired Arm and Apple changes to Arm Processors and has to pay license fees.
Apple is anyway paying a license fee to ARM. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

The thing is that a lot of companies are utilizing ARM processors, and there will be tight scrutiny over the deal. Anti-competitive rule should also apply to this deal, i.e. Nvidia should not be able to cut others out from using ARM processors, or compel them to buy it coupled with Nvidia graphics only.
Xex360
A way to re-enter the phone market, maybe with an nVidia phone.
You don't need to buy ARM to get access to ARM processor in the first place. So this does not make sense. Looking at Nvidia's lackluster effort with their Tegra line which is still using a dated A57 ARM processor, I doubt that is the main reason. Lackluster not because they can't, but rather the lack of interest is my guess.
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#7
renz496
Punkenjoy
Expect a 100 billions deals.

Also, Arms will be everywhere in the future, not just in phone. This would give Nvidia the ability to compette against AMD and Intel who both do CPU + GPU

But i suspect they won't be alone there, and i wouldn't be surprised if they go public instead for even more money.
i think nvidia intention with CPU is quite clear. they will not make any type of CPU as their base offering but instead will keep the flexibility they have right now. meaning they will make their GPU work well regardless what type of CPU in use be it PowerPC, ARM or x86. this is the one of the primary drive in acquiring interconnect specialist company like mellanox.
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#8
dicktracy
ARM is the future and everyone is tired of legacy x86. Make it happen Jensen!
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#9
natr0n
Softbank will want a leg too before selling arm.
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#10
renz496
watzupken
Apple is anyway paying a license fee to ARM. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

The thing is that a lot of companies are utilizing ARM processors, and there will be tight scrutiny over the deal. Anti-competitive rule should also apply to this deal, i.e. Nvidia should not be able to cut others out from using ARM processors, or compel them to buy it coupled with Nvidia graphics only.
but realistically when it comes to SoC there are not many choice for that either. Qualcomm is pretty much forcing all smartphone maker to use their snapdragon package. other SoC maker most often have only two choice when it comes to GPU: ARM own Mali or Imagination Technologies PowerVR. AMD also now present but since the effort is a joint venture between AMD and samsung there is possibilities samsung want to keep AMD GPU to their line of SoC as an advantage over others. for majority of SoC maker they most often go with ARM Mali. imagination real customer for the last decade really is only apple. hence when apple decided to make their own custom GPU Imagination basically screwed back then....until some chinese company bought them.
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#11
watzupken
renz496
but realistically when it comes to SoC there are not many choice for that either. Qualcomm is pretty much forcing all smartphone maker to use their snapdragon package. other SoC maker most often have only two choice when it comes to GPU: ARM own Mali or Imagination Technologies PowerVR. AMD also now present but since the effort is a joint venture between AMD and samsung there is possibilities samsung want to keep AMD GPU to their line of SoC as an advantage over others. for majority of SoC maker they most often go with ARM Mali. imagination real customer for the last decade really is only apple. hence when apple decided to make their own custom GPU Imagination basically screwed back then....until some chinese company bought them.
That is not the same. Qualcomm also uses ARM processors for the Snapdragon. All modern mobile SOCs you find out there utilizes ARM processors, though they may do some changes on their own, and couple it with their own graphic solution to come up with their own custom SOC. So if Nvidia plays punk after buying over ARM, then it is going to cause massive problems.
dicktracy
ARM is the future and everyone is tired of legacy x86. Make it happen Jensen!
I don't know if you are aware what you are asking for here. ARM makes processors and license it out to whomever who wants to create their custom SOC, or use the processor and graphic solution from ARM themselves. In my opinion, ARM is agnostic to whoever is using their processor since they earn licensing fee, and thus, their objective is just to sell as much as possible.

However if ARM is to be owned by Nvidia and stop others like Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple, Amazon, Google, etc, from using ARM processors going forward, its going to be a huge problem. Nvidia already have access to ARM processors, which makes me wonder what sinister reasons they have to acquire ARM. Which is also why I feel this sale if true, is going to be under heavy scrutiny.

In my opinion, Nvidia don't have a good track record of being open and sharing. So go figure what will happen if this really happens.
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#12
R0H1T
It'll be a warm day on Pluto before Nvidia acquires ARM, I just don't see how this will workout :shadedshu:
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#13
renz496
watzupken
That is not the same. Qualcomm also uses ARM processors for the Snapdragon. All modern mobile SOCs you find out there utilizes ARM processors, though they may do some changes on their own, and couple it with their own graphic solution to come up with their own custom SOC. So if Nvidia plays punk after buying over ARM, then it is going to cause massive problems.
and that graphic solution can only be a) ARM Mali or b) Imagination Technologies PowerVR. that's what i mean. for majority of other SoC maker they did not have any other choice than those two. Qualcomm did not license their Adreno to others. to get Adreno it only came in Qualcomm snapdragon package. and majority of SoC maker most often end up with Mali due to several reasons. so if nvidia acquire ARM the most likely out come is nvidia did not even need to force ARM licensee to also license their graphic core. naturally they will come to choose it as their primary GPU just like they did with Mali.
watzupken
I don't know if you are aware what you are asking for here. ARM makes processors and license it out to whomever who wants to create their custom SOC, or use the processor and graphic solution from ARM themselves. In my opinion, ARM is agnostic to whoever is using their processor since they earn licensing fee, and thus, their objective is just to sell as much as possible.

However if ARM is to be owned by Nvidia and stop others like Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple, Amazon, Google, etc, from using ARM processors going forward, its going to be a huge problem. Nvidia already have access to ARM processors, which makes me wonder what sinister reasons they have to acquire ARM. Which is also why I feel this sale if true, is going to be under heavy scrutiny.

In my opinion, Nvidia don't have a good track record of being open and sharing. So go figure what will happen if this really happens.
no reason for nvidia to do that. even nvidia are not that silly to refuse money making business. in the past they also try to license their GPU IP for mobile market but no one interested with it. if they can get money from the licensing ARM core why they need to stop others to do that? Qualcomm for example majority of their revenue coming from the licensing deal they are doing with their modem/baseband/wireless tech they are offering around the world. this way nvidia can diversify better and not relying too much on gaming segment to fund the company effort like they are right now. if anything this interest to acquire ARM might have to do with datacenter effort. nvidia need to make ARM to be one of the serious options for datacenter market which now is dominated by x86.
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#14
R0H1T
Did you forget Ageia, Mellanox? And who says Nvidia is stupid if they go down the same road as they've always done in the past, for maximizing profits! The rest of ARM partners would be stupid to stick to ARM if something major & potentially disruptive happens given some of their intentions & plans to switch over (completely) to ARM in the future. This is why I don't see it happening, heck Apple would buy ARM before allowing their fate to be governed or dictated by the likes of JHH.
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#15
Ashtr1x
Softbank is not just shooting in foot but balls. This is a stupid idea to entertain selling off ARM esp when Apple is making their processors from them. Softbank should not sell this and not to Nvidia of all. Their openness is complete trash. Qcomm gets best ARM developer community with CAF but that is also nothing when they purposefully sandbag their processors from getting latest Android, CTS BS always. I hope this ridiculous idea of selling ARM stops at Softbank asap, Japan will lose another big tech, Toshiba did a mistake by blowing money on Westingtonhouse now all their technology belongs to a consortium where big companies call shots like Apple and so many others, It's Kioxia now for their Memory business.

Stupid betting on wework disaster and now another big mistake, idea of selling ARM.
Posted on Reply
#16
renz496
R0H1T
Did you forget Ageia, Mellanox? And who says Nvidia is stupid if they go down the same road as they've always done in the past, for maximizing profits! The rest of ARM partners would be stupid to stick to ARM if something major & potentially disruptive happens given some of their intentions & plans to switch over (completely) to ARM in the future. This is why I don't see it happening, heck Apple would buy ARM before allowing their fate to be governed or dictated by the likes of JHH.
the thing with Ageia is it happen more than a decade ago. if nvidia did not buy ageia they probably will die much sooner. their idea of selling PPU just for physics processing alone will not really get off the ground even if they were independent from nvidia. remember back then majority of games are using havok. Ageia solution is only working on games using PhysX which is very small portion of game are using back then. and i haven't seen anything bad happen to mellanox yet. or just people assume bad thing will happen to mellanox now just because they were own by nvidia? and between apple and nvidia....nvidia probably the better choice for ARM.

Edit:
and as we discuss this Softbank also approach Apple if they were interested to get ARM for themselves:
www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-22/softbank-approached-apple-to-gauge-interest-chip-designer-arm
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#17
TheLostSwede
So much talk, so little knowledge in this thread.
It seems like most of you have no idea what the implications would be if ARM ended up with a company that would stop licensing the architecture.
Everyone thinks about phones, but that's really just a tiny, tiny part of ARM based hardware.

Think about all the MCUs out there based on the Cortex-M series and suddenly you realise that there will be a lot less chips for everything from bluetooth to wireless headphones to thermostats to rice cookers and what not.
ARM chips are in just about everything we use that have some kind of processing power today, even more so in lower power devices.
Sure, there's some competition here by old 8051 8-bit MCUs and some other 8, 16 and 32-bit MCUs, but I would say 75%+ is based on ARM today.

The Cortex-R series is used in SSD controllers, car computers and anything that requires an RTOS.

The Cortex-A series of SoC processor cores are also the most widely used processor core in routers today, even though MIPS technically has a better architecture for routers, but they simply didn't keep up with ARM. They're obviously in phones, but also in pretty much all modern "smart" TVs, set-top-boxes, media players, smart speakers and what not.

It would be an utter disaster if ARM ended up being sold to a company that didn't continue to license the technology, as it we'd end up in a situation where there would be no new products for at least a couple of years until there's something available to replace all these different parts that are based on ARM architectures. RISC-V seems to have the best place in the market right now to step up, but so far, it's not a simple task as there are no simple drop-in replacements, as the architectures are quite different, despite both being RISC based. MIPS seems to have committed harakiri, so I'm not sure they'll ever come back from that. ARC/Synopsys might be able to replace some MCU designs as well. PowerPC is mostly dead in this space as well. Intel has proven they can't do low power. AMD, who knows?

Maybe the world has become to reliant on ARM and its processor designs, but they haven't really had too much competition either. So yeah, this is very disconcerting to say the least.
Posted on Reply
#18
watzupken
renz496
no reason for nvidia to do that. even nvidia are not that silly to refuse money making business. in the past they also try to license their GPU IP for mobile market but no one interested with it. if they can get money from the licensing ARM core why they need to stop others to do that? Qualcomm for example majority of their revenue coming from the licensing deal they are doing with their modem/baseband/wireless tech they are offering around the world. this way nvidia can diversify better and not relying too much on gaming segment to fund the company effort like they are right now. if anything this interest to acquire ARM might have to do with datacenter effort. nvidia need to make ARM to be one of the serious options for datacenter market which now is dominated by x86.
Think about this, as I mentioned earlier, I don't see any incremental benefit for Nvidia to own ARM since they are already a licensee and have access to ARM's products. Considering the main reason for Nvidia to acquire ARM is likely to give themselves an edge when it comes to the enterprise/ data center market, why would they allow others access to ARM's IPs? Even if they do allow, are they licensing it at a reasonable royalty so as not to give themselves an unfair advantage? Perhaps I am over reacting, but I feel if ARM gets acquired by Nvidia, then ARM is dead is my opinion.
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#19
ratirt
Nvidia entering cell phone market and maybe tablets? That would be something. I see my cell phone in a leather cover instead of plastic :) Softer leather cover for the kids' tablet instead of plastic :) That could work :p
watzupken
Think about this, as I mentioned earlier, I don't see any incremental benefit for Nvidia to own ARM since they are already a licensee and have access to ARM's products. Considering the main reason for Nvidia to acquire ARM is likely to give themselves the edge when it comes to the enterprise/ data center market, why would they allow others access to ARM's IPs? Even if they do allow, are they licensing it at a reasonable royalty so as not to give themselves an unfair advantage? Perhaps I am over reacting, but I feel if ARM gets acquired by Nvidia, then ARM is dead is my opinion.
NVidia doesn't own either license ARM nor x86. If they are acquiring ARM to have something for the future? I'd think that is the case.
Posted on Reply
#20
watzupken
renz496
the thing with Ageia is it happen more than a decade ago. if nvidia did not buy ageia they probably will die much sooner. their idea of selling PPU just for physics processing alone will not really get off the ground even if they were independent from nvidia. remember back then majority of games are using havok. Ageia solution is only working on games using PhysX which is very small portion of game are using back then. and i haven't seen anything bad happen to mellanox yet. or just people assume bad thing will happen to mellanox now just because they were own by nvidia? and between apple and nvidia....nvidia probably the better choice for ARM.

Edit:
and as we discuss this Softbank also approach Apple if they were interested to get ARM for themselves:
www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-22/softbank-approached-apple-to-gauge-interest-chip-designer-arm
Between Apple and Nvidia, I will prefer none of them to hold a majority share because based on their track records, both are equally as closed as close can be. So you should expect some big shakeups if either of them gets their hands on ARM.

Anyway, I am not surprise if word that Nvidia is keen to acquire ARM reaches Apple, they will also take an interest in it. After all, they are looking to move everything in house, and with the recent move to migrate from Intel to ARM, it will be really disruptive to their plans if Nvidia completes the acquisition. Between the 2, Apple have more financial might to acquire something as big as ARM, though they will not be able to realize the full potential of their acquisition if they are only planning to keep it to themself.
Posted on Reply
#21
Legacy-ZA
TheLostSwede
So much talk, so little knowledge in this thread.
It seems like most of you have no idea what the implications would be if ARM ended up with a company that would stop licensing the architecture.
Everyone thinks about phones, but that's really just a tiny, tiny part of ARM based hardware.

Think about all the MCUs out there based on the Cortex-M series and suddenly you realise that there will be a lot less chips for everything from bluetooth to wireless headphones to thermostats to rice cookers and what not.
ARM chips are in just about everything we use that have some kind of processing power today, even more so in lower power devices.
Sure, there's some competition here by old 8051 8-bit MCUs and some other 8, 16 and 32-bit MCUs, but I would say 75%+ is based on ARM today.

The Cortex-R series is used in SSD controllers, car computers and anything that requires an RTOS.

The Cortex-A series of SoC processor cores are also the most widely used processor core in routers today, even though MIPS technically has a better architecture for routers, but they simply didn't keep up with ARM. They're obviously in phones, but also in pretty much all modern "smart" TVs, set-top-boxes, media players, smart speakers and what not.

It would be an utter disaster if ARM ended up being sold to a company that didn't continue to license the technology, as it we'd end up in a situation where there would be no new products for at least a couple of years until there's something available to replace all these different parts that are based on ARM architectures. RISC-V seems to have the best place in the market right now to step up, but so far, it's not a simple task as there are no simple drop-in replacements, as the architectures are quite different, despite both being RISC based. MIPS seems to have committed harakiri, so I'm not sure they'll ever come back from that. ARC/Synopsys might be able to replace some MCU designs as well. PowerPC is mostly dead in this space as well. Intel has proven they can't do low power. AMD, who knows?

Maybe the world has become to reliant on ARM and its processor designs, but they haven't really had too much competition either. So yeah, this is very disconcerting to say the least.
I can't wait for the $10 000:

Ricecookers
Bluetooth Headphones
Wireless Headphones
Thermostats

etc. You know, because, reasons. Maybe they will have RTX? :roll:
Posted on Reply
#22
john_
This can guarantee Nvidia's future. Because Nvidia NEEDS X86 and ARM. What if it loses both in the future?

If Apple buys ARM and stops giving licenses for the latest ARM architecture and only gives licenses for older versions? Anything nonApple will be 1-2 generations behind.
If Intel creates in 5-10 years GPUs that perform at the same lavel as those from Nvidia? Maybe create a new interface for GPUs and FPGAs and does not offer a license for that interface to others? It's GPUs could have an absolute advantage over Nvidia's that will still need to use the PCIe. AMD could do the same.

Nvidia is a threat for both AMD and Intel. While it offers the best GPUs right now, things could turn really badly in the future because, no matter how good it's products are, they need a platform with a CPU on it. This means that Nvidia even if it becomes a half trillion company in a few years, will be at the mercy of others.
Posted on Reply
#23
lexluthermiester
btarunr
The biggest tech news story from last week was Japan's SoftBank contemplating the sale of Arm, one of the hottest pieces of tech IP out there. Turns out, this has piqued NVIDIA's interest. The graphics and scalar compute giant recently surpassed Intel in market capitalization, and has the resources to pull off what could end up being the biggest tech acquisition in history. When it was acquired by SoftBank, Arm Holdings valued at $32 billion, and it's only conceivable that the firm's current valuation is significantly higher for SoftBank to dangle it out in the market. NVIDIA is already an Arm licensee, and following its acquisition of Mellanox, has stated intent to go big in the datacenter industry.
This I can get behind! Apple buying ARM? Hell no! That would be a disaster. NVidia though, that has potential for great things!
john_
If Apple buys ARM and stops giving licenses for the latest ARM architecture and only gives licenses for older versions? Anything nonApple will be 1-2 generations behind.
Exactly. The world does not need Apple goose-stepping all over the place with a critical technology platform.
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#24
PowerPC
lol, the fanboyism in this thread is just amazing. Ya'll talking like all those billions belong to you.
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#25
medi01
AMD has CPU and GPU products in portfolio, can combine the two.
Intel has CPU and GPU products (the latter was lacking, but they have realized it's a problem)
NV, with just aGPU products is in a risky position (e.g. what will happen to NV's MX chips when Intel rolls out its own?)

#metoo moment for them on one hand.

On the other, of all the imaginable things that could have happened to Arm, getting into The Leather Man's hand is the worst: otrageous business practices, track record of killing tech like PhysX and pissing off: Microsoft, Apple, TSMC. The guy seems to play only zero-sum games.


And, last, but not least, does company's stock price going up automatically mean it has more cash?
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