Monday, June 28th 2021

Three Major Arm Licensees Endorse the NVIDIA Takeover

NVIDIA's $40 billion takeover of Arm Holdings plc from SoftBank, got a shot in the arm, as three major licensees of the IP came out in support of the bid. These include Broadcom, MediaTek, and Marvell Technology Group. This development is key for NVIDIA to fight the perception built up by a rival faction, that the democratized nature of the Arm IP would get lost if a chipmaker like NVIDIA owns it. This rival faction is primarily led by Qualcomm.

It's interesting to note the individual backers of the NVIDIA takeover. There is nothing but love between Broadcom and Qualcomm, especially after the former's failed bid to acquire the latter. MediaTek is a major smartphone and IoT SoC maker, dominating the low-cost and mainstream smartphone segments. Marvell is big in datacenter and storage IP. Each of the three are results of huge IP consolidation over the past decade.
The rival faction appears to be led predominantly by players who feel insecure by NVIDIA holding the Arm IP, as they probably fear the company would withhold cutting-edge development to itself, affecting the competitiveness of new-gen products of these companies. These companies are Qualcomm, possibly Apple (which just made a power move ditching Intel x64 for homebrew Arm chips); Samsung, which makes in-house Exynos SoCs for its Galaxy smartphones, and extensively uses Arm in its storage products; and others. Microsoft is among the big firms that voiced apprehensions over the NVIDIA bid.

Japan's SoftBank is eager to get rid of Arm from its holdings, and has even gone as far as to seek a $7.5 billion loan for itself that uses proceeds from the Arm sale as security.
Source: Bloomberg
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48 Comments on Three Major Arm Licensees Endorse the NVIDIA Takeover

#1
Nash
Go get 'em Nvidia, also make more faster and cheaper GPUs! Assholes.
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#2
mtcn77
This is not my field, but these aren't the main proponents of the Arm ecosystem. If you think not Apple, but Mediatek made Arm what it is today, I have a surprise for you. Apple even shaped TSMC. Same with Qualcomm, but it is a matter of personal opinion if you would agree whether Qualcomm is as influential as Apple.
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#3
z1n0x
There is nothing stopping Nvidia from taking high performance design like ARM Neoverse and customize it to its needs, so they can be cpu independent of x86 and Intel/AMD.
This is about power and control over the ARM ecosystem, nothing else.
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#4
mtcn77
z1n0xThere is nothing stopping Nvidia from taking high performance design like ARM Neoverse and customize it to its needs, so they can be cpu independent of x86 and Intel/AMD.
This is about power and control over the ARM ecosystem, nothing else.
Yes, a licensee and licensor at the same time. We all know how it will progress.
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#5
TheLostSwede
mtcn77This is not my field, but these aren't the main proponents of the Arm ecosystem. If you think not Apple, but Mediatek made Arm what it is today, I have a surprise for you. Apple even shaped TSMC. Same with Qualcomm, but it is a matter of personal opinion if you would agree whether Qualcomm is as influential as Apple.
Actually, MTK was a MIPS house until Android took off. If you look at all their older chips, especially in routers, you'll see it's all MIPS.
In fact, ARM was just one of several players until the Smartphone took off and the competition couldn't keep up.
See link below for a reply I wrote here about five years ago. I guess the new addition to that is RISC-V.
www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/who-are-the-competitors-to-arm.231464/post-3618984
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#6
TheoneandonlyMrK
TheLostSwedeActually, MTK was a MIPS house until Android took off. If you look at all their older chips, especially in routers, you'll see it's all MIPS.
In fact, ARM was just one of several players until the Smartphone took off and the competition couldn't keep up.
See link below for a reply I wrote here about five years ago. I guess the new addition to that is RISC-V.
www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/who-are-the-competitors-to-arm.231464/post-3618984
Indeed and Intel just sided with RISC V ,as for new , I dunno, it's popularity has turned positive but it's been about a while.
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#7
mtcn77
TheLostSwedeActually, MTK was a MIPS house until Android took off. If you look at all their older chips, especially in routers, you'll see it's all MIPS.
In fact, ARM was just one of several players until the Smartphone took off and the competition couldn't keep up.
See link below for a reply I wrote here about five years ago. I guess the new addition to that is RISC-V.
www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/who-are-the-competitors-to-arm.231464/post-3618984
Why I don't care for such blatant exploits is because Apple and Qualcomm can go on their seperate ways since they don't build on Arm's mainstream building blocks. It is more ironic that those that do support this decision, but let's find out.
This sound like a, "Don't cut me loose" plea more than anything to me.
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#8
TheLostSwede
TheoneandonlyMrKIndeed and Intel just sided with RISC V ,as for new , I dunno, it's popularity has turned positive but it's been about a while.
RISC has been around for ages, but RISC-V is "new" in terms of CPU architecture even though it's technically been in development since 2010, but there hasn't been anything tangible since shortly after I wrote the post I linked to in 2017 when SiFive came out with their first MCU based on RISC-V. So all the chips based on RISC-V are technically quite new and there are every limited SoCs to date.
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#9
mtcn77
And also, people might not remember that Nvidia tried selling servers, but the silicon valley firms developed their own ASICs. You might not see anything striking, but since a long time Arm had been slower than x86. Now, they are not - the ASICs Amazon developed run faster than x86 servers. This is what Nvidia is purchasing with no involvement of their own. Maybe I'm wrong.

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#10
TheLostSwede
mtcn77Why I don't care for such blatant exploits is because Apple and Qualcomm can go on their seperate ways since they don't build on Arm's mainstream building blocks. It is more ironic that those that do support this decision, but let's find out.
This sound like a, "Don't cut me loose" plea more than anything to me.
I don't think you quite understand how it all works. Apple and QCA have licensed the ARM cores and both companies had an architecture license that allowed them to step away from the base ARM architecture and modify it to their heart's content. However, QCA no longer does that and the licenses are per core design, so if you license for the Cortex-A77, then you have to pay again for the Cortex-A78, unless you fork up for the perpetual license or subscription license, which is what QCA, MTK, Samsung and the likes have. Samsung tried to go down the architecture license road as well, but weren't very successful as we know and due to the higher cost, it simply wasn't worth it.
Keep in mind that you also have to pay a per chip royalty to ARM, so it's not exactly cheap making an ARM chip. There are of course different costs between say a Cortex-M0+ MCU and their latest flagship SoC architecture.
The licensing cost is also why we see so many chips out of china that are still based on the Cortex-A7 CPU core, as these companies have most likely bought a perpetual license, so they can keep churning out different chips on the same core. It obviously takes less engineering hours to reuse a CPU core you've designed for over and over and over again, compared to making something new and better.

mtcn77And also, people might not remember that Nvidia tried selling servers, but the silicon valley firms developed their own ASICs. You might not see anything striking, but since a long time Arm had been slower than x86. Now, they are not - the ASICs Amazon developed run faster than x86 servers. This is what Nvidia is purchasing with no involvement of their own. Maybe I'm wrong.

You're aware that Amazon simply bought Annapurna Labs and had them make these for them, right?
It's easy to design great hardware when you have loads of money and can buy out companies that are already more than halfway there.
Annapurna was selling their Cortex-A15's to the NAS makers and there were even a couple of routers based on their SoCs before Amazon bought them.
www.annapurnalabs.com/
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#11
mtcn77
TheLostSwedeYou're aware that Amazon simply bought Annapurna Labs and had them make these for them, right?
What would happen if Intel bought Arm - that is right, they would have bought their main rival. Same is the case, but after many interludes(Nvidia, Amazon).
Amazon refused Nvidia, now they have to deal with them.
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#12
TheLostSwede
mtcn77What would happen if Intel bought Arm - that is right, they would have bought their main rival. Same is the case, but after many interludes(Nvidia, Amazon).
Amazon refused Nvidia, now they have to deal with them.
Intel wouldn't be allowed to buy ARM.
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#13
mtcn77
TheLostSwedeIt's easy to design great hardware when you have loads of money and can buy out companies that are already more than halfway there.
So, it is easy to design ASICs that are faster than mainstream hardware vendors? Where do you get that idea? I would certainly drop a few more streams if you need the convincing. Amazon didn't only develop a server that beat Nvidia - they beat Intel.
TheLostSwedeIntel wouldn't be allowed to buy ARM.
Yes, why is Nvidia being allowed to buy Arm - which Amazon helped develop. Or some other company for that matter.
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#14
TheLostSwede
mtcn77So, it is easy to design ASICs that are faster than mainstream hardware vendors? Where do you get that idea? I would certainly drop a few more streams if you need the convincing. Amazon didn't only develop a server that beat Nvidia - they beat Intel.
Yeah, uhm, not quite.
www.anandtech.com/show/15578/cloud-clash-amazon-graviton2-arm-against-intel-and-amd

As with Apple, the chip has very good single core performance, but the only reason they "beat" Intel is because the chips that Annapurna/Amazon in the test Anandtech did, is because they have 64 cores, compared to the AMD and Intel systems they tested against have 64 threads, i.e. not real cores. It was also older AMD and Intel hardware, so although it was a fair comparison in terms of what Amazon offers its customers in terms of EC2 instances, it's not a fair comparison in terms of the actual hardware and core count.

So no, it's not an "Intel killer" as you claim, even though it is a very good chip.

I never said it was easy to design a chip, but when you buy out a company that has an already proven SoC design and you scale that up, you save a lot of time and most likely money too in the long run, while pretending like you started from zero, which you didn't do, then you did it easy way.
The first chip that Annapurna designed for Amazon wasn't nearly as impressive and the current chip is based on what is already an old ARM architecture, so we're likely to see even better performance from their next chip.

There's nothing really secret or very unique about the chip itself, as it's built on various technologies developed by ARM that Annapruna then used to design a chip to a set of requirements from Amazon.
mtcn77Yes, why is Nvidia being allowed to buy Arm - which Amazon helped develop. Or some other company for that matter.
We don't know if they are as yet. However, Nvidia doesn't make CPUs today, so they're technically not doing anything anti-competitive, unlike what Intel would be doing if they tried to buy ARM.
I'm not a fan of Nvidia buying ARM if that's what you're thinking, instead I'm very much for the proposal Qualcomm put forth about ARM becoming something akin to a non-profit that is owned by the companies that build products based on the ARM architecture. I'm sure Qualcomm didn't want the consortium to be non-profit, but hey, one can only dream...
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#15
R-T-B
mtcn77Amazon didn't only develop a server that beat Nvidia - they beat Intel.
Point is, they did not really develop it. They bought it off the market via buying the whole company.
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#16
medi01
NashGo get 'em Nvidia, also make more faster and cheaper GPUs! Assholes.
nVidia and democratized nature of the Arm IP of pretty much anything, you can't be serious.
And, OMG, cheaper...

Posted on Reply
#17
mtcn77
R-T-BPoint is, they did not really develop it. They bought it off the market via buying the whole company.
They developed it. They just bought a company to do it. You cannot expect opportunity without a cost.
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#18
R-T-B
mtcn77They developed it. They just bought a company to do it. You cannot expect opportunity without a cost.
The company had already developed it...
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#19
mtcn77
TheLostSwedeAs with Apple, the chip has very good single core performance, but the only reason they "beat" Intel is because the chips that Annapurna/Amazon in the test Anandtech did, is because they have 64 cores, compared to the AMD and Intel systems they tested against have 64 threads, i.e. not real cores. It was also older AMD and Intel hardware, so although it was a fair comparison in terms of what Amazon offers its customers in terms of EC2 instances, it's not a fair comparison in terms of the actual hardware and core count.
I find it disingenuous that you switch the argument between client and server products. In server power efficiency is key. Amazon beat Intel fair and square.
R-T-BThe company had already developed it...
No, see the quote below.
TheLostSwedeThe first chip that Annapurna designed for Amazon wasn't nearly as impressive
Amazon developed it, so to compare - it was not acting like a venture capital and gaining monopolistic powers and patent litigation powers from the buyout. There was nothing until they demonstrated the product. The difference is, if else was true, we would all be shaming arm now. We aren't and Arm has gone a reevaluation because of it.
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#20
R-T-B
Amazon basically glued more already made cores together. Take that for what it's worth.
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#21
mtcn77
R-T-BAmazon basically glued more already made cores together. Take that for what it's worth.
That is essentially all development. Intel glued 2MB cache for Pentium M, the first of the following Core Architectures. Where does it end?
I'll tell you where it ends: do you see yourself where Nvidia oversees Amazon's cpu development?
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#22
TheLostSwede
mtcn77I find it disingenuous that you switch the argument between client and server products. In server power efficiency is key. Amazon beat Intel fair and square.
Huh? I didn't switch shit. You just accused me of something random. I thought we were discussion the CPU performance, not power usage... :confused::confused::confused:
mtcn77Amazon developed it, so to compare - it was not acting like a venture capital and gaining monopolistic powers and patent litigation powers from the buyout. There was nothing until they demonstrated the product. The difference is, if else was true, we would all be shaming arm now. We aren't and Arm has gone a reevaluation because of it.
Sorry, but Annapurna designed it, they are still an entity, they just happened to be owned by Amazon.
Just like Centaur designs CPUs for VIA, they are owned by VIA, but they're a separate entity.
I don't really know what this has to do with anything, as the Annapurna/Amazon CPUs are ARM based.
I don't even understand what you're trying to say here. :confused::confused::confused:
Posted on Reply
#23
mtcn77
TheLostSwedeHuh? I didn't switch shit. You just accused me of something random. I thought we were discussion the CPU performance, not power usage... :confused::confused::confused:


Sorry, but Annapurna designed it, they are still an entity, they just happened to be owned by Amazon.
Just like Centaur designs CPUs for VIA, they are owned by VIA, but they're a separate entity.
I don't really know what this has to do with anything, as the Annapurna/Amazon CPUs are ARM based.
I don't even understand what you're trying to say here. :confused::confused::confused:
You are definitely playing dirty, using obscenities and blaming me for it.

Amazon is designing chips in a different market segment than Nvidia. If Nvidia gains jurisdiction on that, that would be patent trolling and even in the best of intentions, since Nvidia would have much larger corporations under its control without the patent protection, Arm's patents would lose their copyright.

Arm does not own their patents quite like the other companies. Arm restricts the exercise of exclusive use of the patent claim. Arm doesn't develop anything for the market. Even if Arm wanted, they couldn't sue others from using it, since they don't use it for marketshare, they only use their Arm IP for royalty.

Should Nvidia sue any of the licensees they cannot get anything because at the time of the patent, Arm wasn't actively in the market. Nvidia wouldn't be able to control them using Arm's IP thus defying any reason they might have by buying Arm.
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#24
TheLostSwede
mtcn77You are definitely playing dirty, using obscenities and blaming me for it.

Amazon is designing chips in a different market segment than Nvidia. If Nvidia gains jurisdiction on that, that would be patent trolling and even in the best of intentions, since Nvidia would have much larger corporations under its control without the patent protection, Arm's patents would lose their copyright.

Arm does not own their patents quite like the other companies. Arm restricts the exercise of exclusive use of the patent claim. Arm doesn't develop anything for the market. Even if Arm wanted, they couldn't sue others from using it, since they don't use it for marketshare, they only use their Arm IP for royalty.

Should Nvidia sue any of the licensees they cannot get anything because at the time of the patent, Arm wasn't actively in the market. Nvidia wouldn't be able to control them using Arm's IP thus defying any reason they might have by buying Arm.
Huh? Sorry? Shit is now an obscenity? :roll:

Amazon is still not designing anything, they bought a company that is designing chips for them. What Nvidia has to do with it, I don't understand, beyond the fact that Nvidia is buying ARM, who's design Annapurna's chips are based on. Why would it be patent trolling? Nvidia itself makes ARM based products as of today, mostly for use in cars. I think you need to read up on what patent trolls are, as this is not and never would be a case of that. Sorry, but you're really confused here.

Also, you have clearly not understand how IP licensing works and ARM could sue companies that break the contract they signed with ARM.

Why did this become about lawsuits now? I thought this was a discussion about chip design :confused::confused::confused:
Sorry, but this ends here, as you're clearly discussing something you don't have any insight whatsoever into.
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#25
mtcn77
TheLostSwedeAmazon is still not designing anything, they bought a company that is designing chips for them.
The guy finished EE and designed his own software as his first investment. Can you be less under appreciative of what a genius Jeff Bezos is?
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