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SoftBank is nearing a deal to sell its Arm Holdings to Nvidia, the world's largest graphics chipmaker, reports The Wall Street Journal.

nvidia_logo.jpg

According to those familiar with the matter, a cash-and-stock deal between the two companies could occur early next week and would be valued at over $40 billion, which could potentially be the largest deal ever in the semiconductor industry. SoftBank initially acquired Arm for $32 billion four years ago.

The two companies have reportedly been in talks for weeks over a possible deal, and if completed, scrutiny may arise among antitrust regulars since Nvidia itself is currently a customer of Arm. Companies that utilize Arm technology would also not be in favor of a deal without explicit assurances that Arm's instruction set will continue to be available for equal licensing opportunities.

SoftBank allegedly approached Apple to see if it was interested in the purchase of Arm, but Apple hadn't planned to pursue a bid due to Arm's licensing requirements and possible regulatory concerns.

Apple licenses technology from Arm for its A-series chips used in its iPhones and iPads, and the company is planning to transition to Arm-based chips in its Mac lineup later this year. A potential sale to Nvidia would not likely have a major impact on Apple or Apple's licensing of Arm technology.

Update: Nvidia has confirmed it will be acquiring Arm from SoftBank in a deal valued at $40 billion.

Article Link: SoftBank Nears Deal to Sell Arm to Nvidia [Updated]
 
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laz232

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Feb 4, 2016
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Shame Apple didnt buy ARM. Seems like a great opportunity.
No it wouldn't - it would actually be an albatros around Apple's neck.

Edit: it would look too much like a monopoly (see other court cases) - even if licenses are under "fair" non-discrimanatory terms.
Whereas Apple is such big licensee - ARM owners are forced to work with them - so not owning ARM is actually in Apple's strategic favour.
 

Porco

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Mar 28, 2005
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SoftBank allegedly approached Apple to see if it was interested in the purchase of Arm, but Apple hadn't planned to pursue a bid due to Arm's licensing requirements and possible regulatory concerns.

I suppose it’s good they reached out, even if Apple didn’t embrace the offer. Hopefully however this goes, Apple won’t be getting the elbow.

(Yes, they’re Arm gags, sorry)
 

Moyapilot

macrumors regular
Aug 14, 2015
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Nvidia has obviously done their homework and sees benifits to owning Arm. Why do fanboys always make it sound like its of no value just because Apple isn’t buying? Apple probably has enough lawsuits on its hands that it didn’t want to take on any more. But thats just a wild guess and I’m sure their are other reasons.
 

orbital~debris

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
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This is interesting:

“Government must safeguard ARM’s UK HQ, says Labour”

Can really only see the UK ‘government’ doing something if it happens to align with their idiocy game-plan (read: post-Brexit landscape)
 

laz232

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Feb 4, 2016
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ARM used to be Switzerland, selling to everyone. If Nvidia owns it, they might not be so forthcoming with sharing improvements.
Yes they will - Nvidia doesn't do CPUs.
It would make good sense for Nvidia to combine ARM core with Nvidias GPU acceleration prowess (think supercomputers) - rival to AMD / ATI combo (APUs etc).
Also good play for machine learning and assisted driving tech - which Nvidia is big in
 

ouimetnick

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Aug 28, 2008
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Jesus you folks are slow to report the news. I read about this 24 hours ago, and you just get around to reporting on it now.

It will be interesting to see what obstacles they run into. This won’t impact Apple, but SoftBank is going to cash in while they can. I can’t see x86-64 being the leader in 10 years. Just like how we transitioned from buggy to car, I don’t see desktop and laptops sticking around with the current architecture.
 

Rigby

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Aug 5, 2008
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If Nvidia wanted to make ARM-based CPUs, they could just buy a license for a tiny fraction of $40 billion. The only reason I can think of for this step is that Nvidia want to be in a position of control, and that would be bad news for the ARM ecosystem, which thrived due to ARM's independence. This acquisition may strengthen RISC-V to the detriment of ARM.
 

deconstruct60

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Mar 10, 2009
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Hopefully apple will wake up and us install Nvidia drivers in OS X.

To be blunt, this move would have highly likelihood of making that situation worse , not better.

Nvidia paying $40B for ARM would likely mean they were about to do something squirelly with the ARM assets. Something to proprietary and market 'dumb' and they'll be even lower down on Apple's "get rid of list".

A bit delusional to think that this will mean Nvidia has big leverage on Apple. They don't now and this wouldn't necessarily help at all.
 

BuffaloTF

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Jun 10, 2008
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Nvidia has obviously done their homework and sees benifits to owning Arm. Why do fanboys always make it sound like its of no value just because Apple isn’t buying? Apple probably has enough lawsuits on its hands that it didn’t want to take on any more. But thats just a wild guess and I’m sure their are other reasons.

ARM licenses are perpetual. Like, license once and forget it. They’ll need to be re-licensed when the new version comes out soon, but same rules apply.

For an Apple, it makes no sense. For someone like Nvidia, it makes a ton of sense. They’ll have the additional benefit of the inside track on their GPUs, their cash cow, up and running on ARM and potentially offered at a base level for purchase to licensees - ARM is currently devoid (to my knowledge) of official drivers from Nvidia and AMD. Everything (that I’ve seen) is a home brew project.
 

deconstruct60

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Mar 10, 2009
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Shame Apple didnt buy ARM. Seems like a great opportunity.

it would likely be a giant black hole of money down the drain. $40B ... there is no way they could get cost recovery of that amount as being a single vendor supplier to themselves.

The price for ARM is waaayy too high. Softbank likely overpaid before. Nvidia is overpaying even more . ( Nvidia is likely throwing hyper inflated stock at it so it is bit like paying with "monopoly money" so short term they don't care. Pretty good chance they'll get sued later though when it doesn't pan out. )

The better move for Apple would have been to put money into a shared holding company with several other big ARM customers and jointly buy out ARM from Softbank. ARM going to a single ARM customer is just all around bad for the long term prospects for the ARM and its licensing. It is going to create an environment of distrust and frankly there are other options if enough money is poured into those.
 

deconstruct60

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Mar 10, 2009
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Imagine if NVIDIA gets petty and says: No macOS NVIDIA drivers, no license... lol.

The only thing Nvidia could cut Apple off from is future ARM instruction set improvements. Apple is free to 'fork' the instruction set coverage and just move forward with a more proprietary implementation if they want. ( Could do that for another 4-10 years until jump onto something else if they want. )


Nvidia can't take away what Apple already has. There zero way for Nvidia to threaten their way into being a component vendor at all. All that likely will do is shut the door even further as a irresponsible subcontractor who wants 'the tail to wag the dog'. Apple doesn't need them that bad at all.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
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....
It will be interesting to see what obstacles they run into. This won’t impact Apple, but SoftBank is going to cash in while they can. I can’t see x86-64 being the leader in 10 years. Just like how we transitioned from buggy to car, I don’t see desktop and laptops sticking around with the current architecture.

If Nvidia buys ARM and puts it more so on a proprietary Nvidia track .... that actually gives x86-64 a better shot.
MIPS or RISC-V aren't ready to stand up to take over the mainstream. And if Nvidia scares off the major server/mainstream players then x86-64 will get large wins just on the momentum/inertia that can't be matched.

The price Nvidia is paying is dubiously high. Even with a healthy fraction of "monopoly money" in Nvidia stock. ( i.e., in a large sense "other peoples money" (the Nvidia stockholders ) ).

Nvidia is going highly likely to cloud up ARM's GPU offerings. That's would rattle several of their major customers. Sure there will be arm-flapping on how they will swap those out for better ones, but disruptive enough to give x86-64 vendors more time to turn the corner.

Nvidia has a decent track record of building moats around their products. They would super struggle with credibility that they were going to keep ARM open and even playing field. ( unless an independent wholly owned subsidiary. even still there will be much doubt. ). $40B price is midly suggestive that they'll need lots of SoC implementors to recoup that kind of money. But there are other paths where that is just scraps to those lower down on the performance curve.
 

alchemistmuffin

macrumors 6502
Dec 28, 2007
412
111
This is probably going to make Apple very unhappy.

they already hate nvidia to the core (no pun intended) and I would NOT be surprised if Apple started to create their own instruction set for future Apple Silicon chips, just to give nvidia the finger.
 
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