Wednesday, October 6th 2021

NVIDIA's Now $54 Billion Arm Acquisition Hits Major Snag with the European Commission, Offers Concessions

It looks like NVIDIA's acquisition of Arm Holdings Plc from Japan's SoftBank, has hit its biggest regulatory hurdle, with the European Commission, the apex executive body of the European Union, deliberating on whether the deal requires a thorough investigation lasting 4 months. Reuters reports that NVIDIA offered the Commission certain "concessions," which may affect the way Arm operates under NVIDIA. The Commission did not disclose these concessions, but mentioned that it will take until October 27 to decide whether or not they merit further investigation.

NVIDIA's Arm acquisition has split the Arm licensee industry along the median. The likes of Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung, have voiced serious concerns over the deal. They fear that as a high-performance SoC designer itself, NVIDIA will withhold the most advanced bits of the Arm IP to itself, giving it a competitive edge over licensees. Not all companies see it this way, with Broadcom, MediaTek, and Marvell openly endorsing the deal. It's interesting to note here, that Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm, make faster smartphone SoCs than MediaTek, Broadcom, and Marvell (and their subsidiaries) do.
Source: Reuters
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29 Comments on NVIDIA's Now $54 Billion Arm Acquisition Hits Major Snag with the European Commission, Offers Concessions

#1
Vayra86
Please place a tactical nuke on this deal, ty
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#2
TheLostSwede
There are so many things that could go wrong if Nvidia is allowed to buy Arm and there's nothing that could replace Arm over night.
Yes, there's RISC-V, but they can't compete with a Cortex-A53 yet, even less the higher-end parts from Arm. They could replace some of the MCU products, but that's going to take years to do.
MIPS is still around, somewhere and could possibly, maybe pick up some of the slack, but same again, can't compete on the high-end.
So what happens if Nvidia changes the license terms after having picked up Arm, as there's nothing really stopping them from doing so.
It'll be interesting to see what the concessions are, as I doubt it'll be enough. I mean, it's not as if Nvidia can sell off the MCU business to someone else, as the Cortex-M cores are often used for system controllers or PMICs on larger Arm based SoCs.
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#3
Khonjel
Since I'm not versed in EU politics, lemme ask you folks from there. How much compensation er.. concession do european politicians take before they bendoverbackwards for corporations?
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#4
bug
KhonjelSince I'm not versed in EU politics, lemme ask you folks from there. How much compensation er.. concession do european politicians take before they bendoverbackwards for corporations?
It works a little different over here. Since EU companies can't really compete, we just fine those that can.

And not saying there's no reason of concern, but exactly what "advanced" bits could Nvidia withhold, since ARM's bread and butter is licensing instruction sets?
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#5
persondb
What's curious is that the ones against it are the ones with custom ARM cores projects or GPUs. Possibly, Qualcomm and Apple wouldn't be thrilled to have Nvidia offer their archs instead of Mali ones as they could lose a lot of advantages there.

Personally, I think this deal should go ahead as to accelerate more investment into other ISAs ecosystem. It would be really good to have actual competition in those MCUs and mobile areas where ARM has a literal monopoly and this might be the only way to do that.

Could also be nice to have phones with nvidia graphics too or random arm socs.
TheLostSwedeYes, there's RISC-V, but they can't compete with a Cortex-A53 yet, even less the higher-end parts from Arm. They could replace some of the MCU products, but that's going to take years to do.
MIPS is still around, somewhere and could possibly, maybe pick up some of the slack, but same again, can't compete on the high-end.
It's just that there's hasn't been enough interest to do any uarch of RISC-V that was of this performance class. There's of course SiFIVE but they are far more limited in size. ARM role is important as they design and licensee the core and their designs.

For say RISC-V, the ecosystem just isn't there yet. And might never be at this rate. Unless the deal goes through and people flock into it.
bugAnd not saying there's no reason of concern, but exactly what "advanced" bits could Nvidia withhold, since ARM's bread and butter is licensing instruction sets?
They design the CPU cores and GPUs too. Only a couple of companies like Apple depends solely on them for the ISA as they do custom/non-generic ARM designs.
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#6
cst1992
So are you saying it's NVIDIA that'll manufacture Apple's M1 chips now, or is that a different ARM we're talking about?

Also, (damn) $54 billion?!
Posted on Reply
#7
Totally
bugIt works a little different over here. Since EU companies can't really compete, we just fine those that can.

And not saying there's no reason of concern, but exactly what "advanced" bits could Nvidia withhold, since ARM's bread and butter is licensing instruction sets?
It's Nvidia, they'll find a way. Judging by how they are pursuing this deal thay already have a few methods. If I had to guess, going by their track record of their previous technology acquisitions, Nvidia is most likely going to start locking down features that are "already included" and then enact some sort of pay to play model.
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#8
TheLostSwede
persondbWhat's curious is that the ones against it are the ones with custom ARM cores projects or GPUs. Possibly, Qualcomm and Apple wouldn't be thrilled to have Nvidia offer their archs instead of Mali ones as they could lose a lot of advantages there.
Could they? How would that affect Apple at all for one?
How would it affect Qualcomm, except maybe make them look bad vs. MTK or Samsung (who seems to prefer AMD at the moment), since Marvell and Broadcom don't make phone chips.
Mali isn't exactly cutting edge, but then again, considering how many devices still use the old MP400/450 GPU, it shows that most Arm chip makers don't give a hoot about graphics acceleration.
persondbPersonally, I think this deal should go ahead as to accelerate more investment into other ISAs ecosystem. It would be really good to have actual competition in those MCUs and mobile areas where ARM has a literal monopoly and this might be the only way to do that.
Arm doesn't have a monopoly when it comes to MCUs, in fact, it's the one area where they have plenty of competition. Outside of Arm, there's well over a dozen competing microcontroller cores, although a lot of them are a bit old and slow by modern standards.
persondbIt's just that there's hasn't been enough interest to do any uarch of RISC-V that was of this performance class. There's of course SiFIVE but they are far more limited in size. ARM role is important as they design and licensee the core and their designs.
And you know this how? There are several companies working on various RISC-V implementations, it's just that you can't just take what they offer and throw together a working chip, as they don't offer all the block needed, unlike Arm. As such, you have to license technology from other companies and it takes a lot longer time to build something using RISC-V today compared to Arm.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RISC-V#Existing

I guess you missed this news post? Yes, it's not a full on SoC as such, but it shows that there's ongoing work on RISC-V hardware.
www.techpowerup.com/287033/european-processor-initiative-epac-1-0-risc-v-test-chip-samples-delivered
persondbFor say RISC-V, the ecosystem just isn't there yet. And might never be at this rate. Unless the deal goes through and people flock into it.
Apparently the PRC is putting a lot of resources into RISC-V.
So is WD by the way.
cst1992So are you saying it's NVIDIA that'll manufacture Apple's M1 chips now, or is that a different ARM we're talking about?

Also, (damn) $54 billion?!
No, Arm doesn't manufacture anything, they design IP that is used to some degree inside Apple's chips, but Apple doesn't use the default Arm IP as is, unlike say MTK.
TSMC will continue to make Apple's chips.
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#9
Jomale
Ok it's fudzilla but:

[SIZE=4]Nvidia's acquisition of ARM still uncertain [/SIZE]

[SIZE=4]China has the [B]last[/B] word, and this is not great news for US-based Nvidia, Japan-based SoftBank, the current owner of the money bleeding ARM, and UK-based ARM. [/SIZE]

Posted on Reply
#10
Vayra86
KhonjelSince I'm not versed in EU politics, lemme ask you folks from there. How much compensation er.. concession do european politicians take before they bendoverbackwards for corporations?
EU politics has a pretty admirable history in that regard. Its still young, eh :)
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#11
theGryphon
They fear that as a high-performance SoC designer itself, NVIDIA will withhold the most advanced bits of the Arm IP to itself, giving it a competitive edge over licensees.
What? No!! NVIDIA wouldn't do such thing! :mad:

;)
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#12
seth1911
EU is first money hot, and have no vision for the future...

Stupid like all day :kookoo:#


Atm we have here one producer for SSDs its called Goodram from Poland with a Franchise from Toshiba, the rest is away.:laugh::sleep:
Posted on Reply
#13
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Vayra86Please place a tactical nuke on this deal, ty
Good
seth1911EU is first money hot, and have no vision for the future...

Stupid like all day :kookoo:#


Atm we have here one producer for SSDs its called Goodram from Poland with a Franchise from Toshiba, the rest is away.:laugh::sleep:
Nonsense
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#14
awesomesauce
Vayra86Please place a tactical nuke on this deal, ty
ok nuke the deal, fine. do you have any solution to offer?
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#15
DeathtoGnomes
euters reports that NVIDIA offered the Commission certain "concessions,"
Not surprised Nvidia offered a bribe, kick backs or whatever to gain favor. I hope they do the investigation bit.
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#16
TheoneandonlyMrK
bugIt works a little different over here. Since EU companies can't really compete, we just fine those that can.

And not saying there's no reason of concern, but exactly what "advanced" bits could Nvidia withhold, since ARM's bread and butter is licensing instruction sets?
They design and distribute IP , work with foundries and tool designers on compliance engineering and actually selll various different full designs of cores and SOCs including ancillary accelerators from Ai to,,,,,, well, you undermine their efforts and sell them short.
China arm will scupper it, simples.
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#17
PCL
awesomesauceok nuke the deal, fine. do you have any solution to offer?
You're asking for a solution where no problem exists. Nuke the deal and let ARM file for an IPO.
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#18
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
I hate to say it, but I feel like there is a public interest in keeping ARM fairly neutral when it comes to competition between vendors. nVidia really kind of screws with that equation. I can think of many words to describe nVidia, and neutral isn't one of them.
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#19
Turmania
Forgive me for askinh but why is an american company always facing bureaucratic troubles from europeans but not the other way around. I remember very clearly pepsico wanted to buy Danone from french and in the end their government vetoed the deal citing Danone is historic importance to french culture....always same and lame excuses.
Posted on Reply
#20
Totally
TurmaniaForgive me for askinh but why is an american company always facing bureaucratic troubles from europeans but not the other way around. I remember very clearly pepsico wanted to buy Danone from french and in the end their government vetoed the deal citing Danone is historic importance to french culture....always same and lame excuses.
Hate to say it but it's the sad truth, easier to grease the wheels whenever they tend to stick. If we had term limits we'd see less of these kind of things and more pushback from the gov't.
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#21
Khonjel
TurmaniaForgive me for askinh but why is an american company always facing bureaucratic troubles from europeans but not the other way around. I remember very clearly pepsico wanted to buy Danone from french and in the end their government vetoed the deal citing Danone is historic importance to french culture....always same and lame excuses.
I mean I'm not from either of those geography but I wouldn't trust an American company's worth a dime. And despite how lacklustre America's antitrust body has been past few decades, the Trump admin didn't let Broadcomm buy Qualcomm. And in this case ARM is arguably more important than Qualcomm.
Whatever EU does or does not, China might block it anyway. Although after China stole the whole fucking company of chinese ARM, they might not just care anymore.
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#22
Minus Infinity
Kill it off now and stop dicking around. This is bad for the industry, it's bad for competition and it's bad for the consumer. Huang is a joke.
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#23
bug
TheoneandonlyMrKThey design and distribute IP , work with foundries and tool designers on compliance engineering and actually selll various different full designs of cores and SOCs including ancillary accelerators from Ai to,,,,,, well, you undermine their efforts and sell them short.
China arm will scupper it, simples.
Well yes, they do all that. But that not really relevant. Apple doesn't use off-the-shelf cores (or other guidance) and can still build the best ARM cores. That's why I'm inferring that if you have the ISA, you're good.
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#24
Vayra86
awesomesauceok nuke the deal, fine. do you have any solution to offer?
Is there a problem, then? Its just Softbank that needs money, not ARM.
TurmaniaForgive me for askinh but why is an american company always facing bureaucratic troubles from europeans but not the other way around. I remember very clearly pepsico wanted to buy Danone from french and in the end their government vetoed the deal citing Danone is historic importance to french culture....always same and lame excuses.
Different ideologies. The US say everyone is welcome and then create a poisonous system of greed. In the EU, we prefer to keep things under some semblance of regulation and control so everyone can eat tomorrow, because we all benefit from such a society in the end, even if you happen to get unlucky someday.
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#25
awesomesauce
It not just about Softbank that needs money but also with china and US tech war and they want to get out of it.
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