As per a report from Bloomberg, NVIDIA is in advanced talks to acquire the chipmaker ARM which was bought by SoftBank Group some years back. Although ARM itself doesn’t manufacture or sell processors, it is responsible for the ARM instruction set and core architectures used by the majority of the smartphone industry including Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple as well as NVIDIA itself. ARM usually licenses its designs to other chipmakers who then use it to manufacture their own custom designs based on it.
Sources claim that the deal with be closed in the next few years, but the final part may take longer as regulatory authorities may be dragged in due the new owner also being a client of the British chip designer.
ARM was bought by the Japanese firm, SoftBank Holdings four years back for $32 billion and the present acquisition is expected to cost at least 50% more. Although the initial rounds of talks have been concluded, the deal might still fall apart either due to financial or regulatory reasons. The reason SoftBank was able to acquire ARM the last time it was on sale is that it was the only neutral party in the talk while the rest of the bidders were clients or beneficiaries.
For NVIDIA, this will be a key win if the deal falls through. The company already has a strong GPU architecture in all major segments including consumer (GeForce), workstation (Quadro), Data Center (Telsa), mobile (Tegra) and autonomous vehicles (Xavier). However, as far as the CPU side is concerned, it has relied either on competitor solutions or custom designs based on ARM’s offerings. Therefore, this acquisition would greatly help alleviate this decade-old problem.
In recent years ARM’s designs have started to gain steam in the server and Data Center markets with Fujitsu, Ampere and Amazon’s Graviton being some of the more successful ventures. Although ARM CPUs still have a very long way to go before it can gain a foothold in an x86 dominated industry, it will give NVIDIA it’s very own CPU roadmap, something rivals AMD and Intel already have.