Four years after SoftBank acquired ARM for $32 billion, the company is apparently looking to sell. And NVIDIA wants to buy.
Bloomberg reports that the two companies are in advanced talks and could “reach a deal in the next few weeks,” according to anonymous sources… although there’s still a chance that “negotiations could drag on longer or fall apart.”
There’s been a lot of consolidation in the semiconductor space in recent years, but this would be the biggest deal yet… which likely means that any acquisition would need to be approved by anti-trust regulators before it could be finalized.
UK-based ARM Holdings doesn’t actually manufacture processors. But the company designs the chip architecture used by processors found in nearly every smartphone on the planet, as well as a growing number of other devices including smart TVs, routers, storage devices, and smart home gadgets. ARM-based chips are also becoming increasingly common in Windows and Chrome OS laptops, and later this year Apple plans to launch the first Mac computers with processors based on ARM technology.
NVIDIA is probably best known for making the graphics chips used in gaming PCs. But the company has also branched out into products for data centers, automotive systems, and other products that can leverage GPU technology for artificial intelligence.
The company also makes processors like the Tegra X1 chip that powers the NVIDIA Shield Android TV set top-box and the Nintendo Switch game console. But aside from that relatively important relationship with Nintendo, NVIDIA has never been as big a player in the CPU space as rivals like AMD, Intel, or Qualcomm.
It’s unclear whether the company is hoping to use an ARM acquisition to change that, or if the plan would be to simply continue ARM’s tried-and-true business model of licensing its designs to third-party chip makers.