from the Arm-ageddon? dept.
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.
Nvidia Buys ARM Holdings From SoftBank for $40 Billion
SoftBank has agreed to sell Arm Holdings to US chip company Nvidia for $40bn, ending four years of ownership as the Japanese technology group shifts towards becoming a global investment and asset management powerhouse.
The UK chip designer is the latest large asset disposal orchestrated by SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son as his newly built war chest opens up options for the group including an expansion of trading into publicly listed technology stocks and a potential delisting of its own shares.
Under the deal, SoftBank will become the largest shareholder in Nvidia, which will pay the Japanese group $21.5bn in common stock and $12bn in cash. "We look forward to supporting the continued success of the combined business," Mr Son said in a joint statement late on Sunday.
[...] While Nvidia is paying more for the asset than SoftBank did, the price also reflects the scale of Arm's underperformance under the Japanese group's ownership.
Nvidia had a market valuation of roughly similar to that of Arm's at the time of the 2016 deal, but now trades with a market value of $300 billion, or roughly 10 times the amount SoftBank paid in cash for Arm. By paying for a large portion of the deals with its own shares, it is also passing part of the risk of the transaction to SoftBank.
[...] For Nvidia, which recently overtook Intel to become the world's most valuable chipmaker, the deal will further consolidate the US company's position at the centre of the semiconductor industry. The British chip designer's technology is starting to find broader applications beyond mobile devices, in data centres and personal computers including Apple's Macs.
Arm would transform Nvidia's product line-up, which until now has largely focused on the high end of the chips market. Its powerful graphics processors—which are designed to handle focused, data-intensive tasks—are typically sold to PC gamers, scientific researchers and developers of artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, as well as cryptocurrency miners.
Official announcement at Nvidia.
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?
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
According to comments from Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a conference call yesterday, we could see Nvidia-branded CPUs in the future, setting the stage for a new level of competition with Intel and AMD.
[...] However, during yesterday's briefing, Timothy Prickett Morgan from TheNextPlatform asked Jensen Huang, "Will you actually take an implementation of something like Neoverse first and make an Nvidia-branded CPU to drive it into the data center? Will you actually make the reference chip for those who just want it and actually help them run it?"
"Well, the first of all you've made an amazing observation, which is all three options are possible," Huang responded, "[...] So now with our backing and Arm's serious backing, the world can stand on that foundation and realize that they can build server CPUs. Now, some people would like to license the cores and build a CPU themselves. Some people may decide to license the cores and ask us to build those CPUs or modify ours."
"It is not possible for one company to build every single version of them," Huang continued, "but we will have the entire network of partners around Arm that can take the architectures we come up with and depending on what's best for them, whether licensing the core, having a semi-custom chip made, or having a chip that we made, any of those any of those options are available. Any of those options are available, we're open for business and we would like the ecosystem to be as rich as possible, with as many options as possible."
Most GPU drivers found in Arm processors are known to be closed-source making it difficult and time-consuming to fix some of the bugs since everybody needs to rely on the silicon vendor to fix those for them, and they may even decide a particular bug is not important to them, so you'd be out of luck.
So the developer community has long tried to reverse-engineer GPU drivers with projects like Freedreno (Qualcomm Adreno), Etnaviv (Vivante), as well as Lima and Panfrost for Arm Mali GPUs. Several years ago, Arm management was not interested at all collaborating with open-source GPU driver development for Mali GPUs, but as noted by Phoronix, Alyssa Rosenzweig, a graphics software engineer employed by Collabora, explained Panfrost development was now done in partnership with Arm during a talk at the annual X.Org Developers' Conference (XDC 2020).
[...] So that means a stable Panfrost driver should be expected quite earlier, and possibly with higher quality, than if the company still had to spend time and resources on reverse-engineering.
Under normal circumstances, US tech giant Nvidia's takeover of British chip designer Arm for US$40 billion (£29 billion) would have sailed through without registering beyond the computing industry. Instead, it has made international headlines, with UK and EU monopolies regulators launching an in-depth investigation after outcry from competitors.
In effect, the deal is pretty much dead before it starts. At the heart of this lies a row about technological sovereignty. So what is going on?
[...] The biggest pushback, behind the scenes, actually appears to be from China. Ever since the US blacklisted Huawei and other semiconductor manufacturers in China, Beijing has been obsessed with becoming technically "self-sufficient".
While it works towards this goal, Arm has continued to license its chip architectures to Huawei. Arm claims that its chip technology is of British origin and therefore does not breach the US restrictions on exporting tech to a group of blacklisted Chinese companies. Thanks to this ongoing arrangement, Arm is one of the remaining enablers for China's semiconductor sector to keep pace with the outside world.