As it is, ARM’s co-founder has already launched a “Save ARM” campaign to try to maintain the semiconductor design company’s independence.
From Gizmodo’s “Nvidia Buying Arm Means Nothing for Apple, but Maybe Good Things for Nintendo” posted Monday:
As Ars Technica points out, Arm itself doesn’t produce its own chips—it licenses its technology to other companies based on its Arm CPU architecture. Apple, Intel, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Huawei are all examples of companies that license from Arm. That means it’s a real no-no for Qualcomm, the chipmaker that’s already in the majority of Android smartphones, as it would practically mean total domination of the market. Likewise, Google wouldn’t be in the running as it’s already under intense anti-trust scrutiny—buying Arm would only make it worse when you factor in Google’s dominance due to the Android operating system. Apple might’ve made some sense on account of all the hullabaloo that is Apple Silicon, and SoftBank did hold preliminary talks with the Cupertino tech giant, but again, with so many of its rivals as Arm licensees, it would’ve been a hard sell.
Nvidia, however, is the least controversial processor company that could buy Arm. While it also licenses Arm technology, Nvidia’s main schtick is GPUs. There’s a reason you don’t really hear about Nvidia with regard to smartphones. In fact, the only real outside hardware using its mobile chipset Tegra is the Nintendo Switch and the Magic Leap headset, which let’s be real, doesn’t really count as a win. That said, should the deal go through, Nvidia buying Arm could mean a lot of major improvements to the Tegra chipset and could theoretically, be a good thing for Nintendo down the line…
This deal is huge and will have a huge ripple effect on the industry. Not only will Nvidia, practically overnight, gain a huge foothold in the smartphone market, it’ll also position it as a major player in the riveting world of… data centers. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has been quoted by both Bloomberg and the New York Times as stating a major priority will be expanding Arm chips for networking and cloud computing—an area that Intel has a 90% share in.
My take: I like friend-of-the-blog Fred Stein’s take…
Side note: NVIDIA acquires ARM for $40B. That’s a rough proxy for the value of Apple’s silicon design IP, which carries a value of $0 on their balance sheet. Yet another hidden asset.