13 January 2021
Graphics processor and AI giant NVIDIA has officially confirmed its decision to acquire ARM, a UK-based mobile chipmaker, from SoftBank. The deal will cost a record-breaking $40 billion which makes it the biggest ever acquisition in the semiconductor space. The amount will be paid over a period of time and the deal is yet to go through regulatory scrutiny.
ARM is one of the biggest names in the mobile chipset market with major clients like Apple, Qualcomm, and MediaTek. Apple has been working with the company since 2006 with its iOS devices using custom A-series chipsets developed using ARM technologies. It has already announced the decision to switch to ARM-based processors from Intel for future Mac devices.
Even though SoftBank is selling ARM to NVIDIA, it will continue to have a 10% stake and will remain "committed to ARM's long-term success". The company will continue to operate from Cambridge, UK but it will be turned into a "world-class AI research facility, supporting developments in healthcare, life sciences, robotics, self-driving cars, and other fields".
NVIDIA has further assured that the deal will not affect ARM's open-licensing model as well as global customer neutrality. This is something that will be scrutinized closely by regulators in China, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe. It will be done to ensure that the deal does not result in a monopoly in the chip-making business that could affect other players and customers severely.
Jensen Huang, NVIDIA's founder and CEO said:
“AI is the most powerful technology force of our time and has launched a new wave of computing. In the years ahead, trillions of computers running AI will create a new internet-of-things that is thousands of times larger than today’s internet-of-people. Our combination will create a company fabulously positioned for the age of AI. Simon Segars and his team at Arm have built an extraordinary company that is contributing to nearly every technology market in the world. Uniting NVIDIA’s AI computing capabilities with the vast ecosystem of Arm’s CPU, we can advance computing from the cloud, smartphones, PCs, self-driving cars, and robotics, to edge IoT, and expand AI computing to every corner of the globe."