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.

ARM Solutions
ARM

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.

The world’s fastest supercomputer even uses ARM chips.

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.

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5 Comments

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  1. If NVIDIA buys ARM, I wonder if that’ll increase/decrease the adoption of the RISC-V architecture or doesn’t affect it at all.

    Not that I’m a big proponent of RISC-V or anything. To me, it’s only “open” for chip companies. With the likely custom (and proprietary) instructions these companies will add, I’m going to guess from my user point-of-view that it’ll be just as fragmented as the ARM ecosystem or worse.

  2. This is sad/bad. Just wehn ARM started entering the PersonalComputer space (Desktops/Laptops) and server/workstation, competing with x86 in someway.

    Qualcomm also is licensing ARM, right?

    MIPS, Power, Zhaoxin may the force be with you.

  3. Good luck with them trying it. Emphasis on could. ARM was sold to a neutral company to begin with to avoid anti-trust violations. Giving it to NVIDIA would mean ARM falling to pieces as an architecture.

    1. Best option: Britain buys it back.

      That way they’re very open to change/feedback/criticism from Europe and rest of the world, but still able to meet the demands of US companies. They likely could continue with usual work, Norway team focused on graphics, US team focused on future chip designs, UK team focused on optimising current chipsets, and France team tweaking for security. So very impartial. And a coming back to their origins puts a nice spin on it.