Nvidia has agreed to acquire Cambridge-based chip designer Arm in a transaction valued at $40 billion.
The deal comes a mere four years after Arm was bought by Japanese conglomerate Softbank for $32 billion, and follows months of speculation and rumour. As part of the deal, SoftBank will retain under 10 percent of an ownership stake.
Nvidia has announced that it will expand Arm's R&D presence in Cambridge by establishing a "world-class AI research and education centre" as well as by "building an Arm/Nvidia-powered AI supercomputer for groundbreaking research".
In the press release, Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia explained, "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."
He went onto explain how Arm is an "extraordinary company that is contributing to nearly every technology market at the world" and how uniting Nvidia's "AI computing capabilities with the vast ecosystem of Arm's CPU [means] 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."
Arm already has various deals with every company you can think of including Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Huawei. Understandably then, there's a concern that being owned by Nvidia may affect its deals further down the line. For now, in the statement, Nvidia has claimed that it will continue Arm's open-licensing model and customer neutrality, while expanding its IP licensing portfolio with the benefit of Nvidia technology.
Given one of the biggest contracts is Arm-powered Apple systems either later this year or early next year, that's big news to anyone worried that the acquisition could stifle competition.
There have been concerns though about the acquisition. Last week, the Labour Party suggested an intervention should be made regarding any potential job losses in Britain due to the takeover although Huang has pointed out that Arm will remain headquartered in Cambridge with the aforementioned expansion plans in place.
Other concerns arise from two of Arm's co-founders, Hermann Hauser and Tudor Brown. Both have suggested in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the company should remain neutral and expressed concerns over conflicts of interest. In the interview, Hauser noted that, "If ARM becomes a US subsidiary of a US company, it falls under the Cfius [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] regulations," which could make it possible for the US government to block Chinese companies. Nvidia has maintained that won't happen but we'll have to see what the future brings.
For now, this is a massive and potentially far reaching acquisition that has the potential to change a lot including some factors we probably haven't even considered yet.
February 26 2021 | 22:15