Nvidia acquistion of ARM all but a done deal, announcement imminent
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Nvidia is on the cusp of acquiring Arm, the British semi-conductor design company behind the underlying architecture powering the world’s smartphones and a wide range of other IOT devices. According to the Financial Times, the deal is as good as done and could be announced as soon as Monday. The transaction with current owner SoftBank said to be worth at US$40 billion, around US$8 billion more than SoftBank acquired Arm for back in 2016.
Arm was established as a joint venture between Acorn Computers, Apple and VLSI Technology in 1990 to develop reduced instruction set computer (RISC) chips. Apple eventually sold out of the business in around 1998 the proceeds of which helped to save the company from insolvency. Apple of course used a Samsung-made Arm-based chip to power the original iPhone before eventually acquiring an Arm license to customize Arm’s architecture in its own chips. Other key makers of mobile Arm chips include Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, and until recently, Huawei.
Nvidia had previously made brief foray into designing Arm-based chips for smartphones with its Tegra brand which integrated its own GPU architecture. It stepped back from those efforts and redirected its energy into developing Arm-based platforms for cars and its own Shield range of devices. For Nvidia, the move to acquire Arm will have obvious synergies with its current operations and will put it squarely back in the frame as far as smartphones, computers and servers go. Much of Arm’s value lies in its design and licensing programs, so it is unlikely to have any impact on Apple or other Arm licensees.
Update: The deal is now official, subject to regulator approvals.