from the big-money-in-tiny-chips dept.
SoftBank has been rumored to be exploring a sale of ARM — the British chip designer that powers nearly every major mobile processor from companies like Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei — and now, it might have found a buyer. Nvidia is reportedly in "advanced talks" to buy ARM in a deal worth over $32 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Nvidia is said to be the only company that's involved in concrete discussions with SoftBank for the purchase at this time, and a deal could arrive "in the next few weeks," although nothing is finalized yet. If the deal does go through, it would be one of the largest deals ever in the computer chip business and would likely draw intense regulatory scrutiny.
(2020-07-12) Apple Has Built its Own Mac Graphics Processors
(2020-07-11) Nvidia's Market Cap Rises Above Intel's
(2020-06-11) ARM Faces a Boardroom Revolt as it Seeks to Remove the CEO of Its Chinese Joint Venture
(2019-10-29) Fed Up Of Playing Whac-A-Mole With Network Of Softbank-Owned Patent Holders, Intel Goes To Court
Intel is taking legal action against a spider's web of patent holders from SoftBank-owned Fortress Investment Group and its network of subsidiaries.
The Japanese megacorp bought the group for $3.3bn in late 2017, and Chipzilla claims Fortress has become more aggressive in an effort to justify its sales price to its new owners.
Intel is suing the company under the Sherman and Clayton antitrust acts to "prevent and restrain Defendants' anticompetitive conduct".
Intel argues in court documents (PDF) that Fortress is asserting patent rights that would not have been considered enforceable by their original owners.
The documents also claim that Fortress has no interest in licensing these patents in the normal way, but prefers to boost the value of its patent portfolio by linking worthless patents with valuable ones.
This war chest of aggregated patents, Intel alleges, allows Fortress to bring case after case against a company until it folds or pays well over the market value for the intellectual property held to stop the litigation.
This strategy, Intel claims, makes it more likely that weak or unenforceable patents are found to be valid in the courts because they are aggregated with patents that may have some merit. It also gives Fortress the opportunity to gain sets of patents that could provide alternatives to each other, which damages competition in the same way that a merger of competing companies can.
ARM, the British silicon ship designer backed by SoftBank, is currently embroiled in a nail-biting boardroom conflict, equipped with an equally appropriate dramatic flareup.
To wit, ARM issued a statement on Wednesday, disclosing that the board of its Chinese joint venture – ARM China – has approved the removal of the incumbent chairman and CEO, Allen Wu. Bear in mind that the British chip designer was purchased by the Japanese behemoth, SoftBank, in 2016 for £24.3 billion. ARM currently holds a 49 percent stake in its Chinese JV, with a consortium of investors led by the Chinese equity fund, Hopu Investment, retaining the residual 51 percent stake.
However, just hours after the initial statement by ARM, its Chinese JV issued a contradictory statement on Weibo, reiterating that Allen Wu "continues to serve as its CEO" and that ARM China was operating as usual.
"Following a whistleblower complaint and several other current and former employee complaints, an investigation was undertaken by Arm Limited," the company said in its latest statement, jointly issued with shareholder Hopu Investment. "Evidence received from multiple sources found serious irregularities, including failing to disclose conflicts of interest and violations of the employee handbook." Wu didn't respond to emails and a message sent via his LinkedIn profile seeking comment.
Nvidia has for the first time overtaken Intel as the most valuable U.S. chipmaker.
In a semiconductor industry milestone, Nvidia's shares rose 2.3% in afternoon trading on Wednesday to a record $404, putting the graphic component maker's market capitalization at $248 billion, just above the $246 billion value of Intel, once the world's leading chipmaker.
[...] Despite Nvidia's meteoric stock rise, its sales remain a fraction of Intel's. Analysts on average see Nvidia's revenue rising 34% in its current fiscal year to $14.6 billion, while they expect Intel's 2020 revenue to increase 2.5% to $73.8 billion, according to Refinitiv.
Reflecting investors' optimism about Nvidia's future profit growth, its shares are currently trading at 45 times expected earnings, while Intel's trade at 12 times expected earnings.
TSMC and Samsung are more valuable than Nvidia.
In other news, Elon Musk is worth more than Warren Buffet.
Also at EE Times.
See also: Where did it all go wrong for Intel?
Like iPhones and iPads, Apple Silicon Macs will use an Apple-designed GPU – something that makes complete sense when you consider this is how current iOS devices work. But it could be a reason for pause by some high-end users during the transition period from Intel-based hardware.
[...] You see, while Intel Macs contain GPU’s from Intel, Nvidia and AMD, Apple Silicon Macs will use what the company seems fond of calling “Apple family” GPUs. These use a rendering system called Tile Based Deferred Rendering (TBDR), which iOS devices already use.
It works differently from the Immediate Mode rendering system supported in Intel Macs: While the latter immediately render imaging data to device memory, the former makes more use of the GPU by sorting out each element first before submitting it to device memory.
You can find out more here.
The effect is that TBDR rendering delivers lower latency, higher performance, lower power requirements and can achieve higher degrees of bandwidth. The A11 chip and Metal 2 really consolidated this technique.
It’s important to note that the GPU in a Mac with Apple silicon is a member of both GPU families, and supports both Mac family and Apple family feature sets. In other words, using Apple Silicon and Rosetta, you should still be able to use software designed for Intel-based Macs.
[...] How will Apple exploit this? Will it ditch fans in order to make thinner Macs? Will it exploit the opportunity to explore a new design language for its PCs? At what point will an iPhone become all the Mac you ever need, given your choice of user interface and access to a larger screen?
We had two submissions about this just-announced story.
Nvidia to buy Arm Holdings From SoftBank for $40 Billion
Chipmaker Nvidia has agreed to buy Arm Holdings, a designer of chips for mobile phones, from SoftBank in a deal worth $40 billion, the companies announced Sunday. The deal will include $21.5 billion in Nvidia stock and $12 billion in cash, including $2 billion payable at signing.
Softbank acquired Arm in 2016 for $31.4 billion in 2016 in one of its largest acquisitions ever. Arm is best known as the designer of an architecture used in chips in most mobile phones, including the Qualcomm chips used in most Android phones, as well as Apple's iPhone. Apple is also planning to shift its Mac computers from Intel chips to an Arm-based design.
Nvidia, whose chips are widely used to support graphics and artificial intelligence applications, including for self-driving vehicles, pledged that it would "continue Arm's open-licensing model and customer neutrality."
Interest in RISC-V set to skyrocket again.