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NVIDIA’s ARM acquisition could run into regulatory trouble in China

A recent DigiTimes report indicates that NVIDIA’s quest for world dominance (via that immense ARM acquisition from SoftBank) might not be as easy as Team Green expects. The surprising thing, though, is that the report suggests pressure will come from an unexpected source: Chinese regulators, suggesting that roadblocks to the acquisition could end up being part of the bigger tapestry of the US-China trade war.

The DigiTimes report states that US restrictions on Chinese chipmakers, in particular restrictions on Huawei’s pet fab HiSilicon, could be a major reason for the expected NVIDIA issues. The pressure exerted by the US government, including an effective ban on the sale of silicon to Huawei, makes it virtually impossible for the Chinese manufacturer to continue making and selling smartphones without relying on domestic foundries.

The NVIDIA acquisition could aggravate this situation: NVIDIA could simply decide not to license ARM designs to Huawei, or it could be pressured into doing so by government authorities. Putting up regulatory hurdles to the acquisition, at least in China, is a way of communicating the Chinese government’s apprehensions about the possible further isolation of Chinese chipmakers. We don’t know what effect this will have on the acquisition (which is a fair accomplishment at this point). But we’ll keep you posted.

Arjun

Penguin-published author, and journalist. Loves PC hardware but has terrible hand-eye coordination. Most likely to be found playing Total War or watching weird Russian sitcoms.
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