Putting all speculation to rest, NVIDIA has finally announced that it is making an official bid to acquire Arm Limited from SoftBank. While the final say will be with regulators, this would mean that NVIDIA could soon be the owner of the intellectual property that pretty much powers the world’s smartphones, cars, and many embedded devices. That does raise concerns about NVIDIA’s hold on such IP and the computer graphics tech giant promises it will be business as usual as far as that licensing business goes.
NVIDIA will be buying Arm Limited from the SoftBank Group to the tune of $40 billion, split between stock and cash. Through that, SoftBank will be able to retain some influence over Arm’s direction, though an ownership stake of less than 10% won’t really be much. The acquisition won’t include Arm’s IoT Services Group which will continue to operate directly under SoftBank.
NVIDIA’s interest in Arm is really no surprise as it already uses Arm’s IP in many of its computing products, especially those outside of the core computer graphics technology. NVIDIA has been steadily increasing its presence in the AI and machine learning industry, not to mention in automotive and IoT markets. Having access to Arm’s ecosystem will undoubtedly give it an edge and NVIDIA promises to establish a new global center for AI research excellence in Arm’s UK home country.
It also promises to continue Arm’s open-licensing model and will even add some of its own IP to Arm’s offering to benefit customers. This will, of course, be the biggest issue with this acquisition, as it puts NVIDIA in a very favorable position to squeeze out the competition in the AI and automotive space.
Of course, it will still depend on regulatory approval. There are already a few voices of concern though, thankfully, Arm has gotten to be too big for NVIDIA to just close off its doors. Unfortunately, Arm is also that big that it will be difficult for customers, developers, manufacturers, and competitors to move away should that happen.