Reports have emerged today from Bloomberg to suggest Nvidia is in ‘advanced talks to acquire Arm Ltd, a processor designer that supplies chips to the likes of Apple, Qualcomm and Intel.
The potential deal is reportedly worth over $32 billion, and could see Nvidia acquire the company from SoftBank Group Corp. Bloomberg reports that the two parties seek to reach an agreement ‘in the next few weeks’, with Nvidia the only party in concrete discussions at the time of writing.
Such a deal could potentially be the most expensive yet in the semiconductor industry, and would see Nvidia become a huge player in the processor market when they have previously retained focus in GPUs, data centres and artificial intelligence.
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But since Nvidia is already a customer of Arm – having manufactured the Tegra chips for Shield TV and Nintendo Switch – the potential acquisition will likely ‘trigger regulatory scrutiny’ as rival companies such as Apple and Intel may want to seek assurances that they can continue to use Arm-based processors.
Apple is a particularly interesting case, with the company recently announcing plans to switch all of its Mac devices over to ARM-based Apple Silicon. There has also been a growing trend for computing devices to feature Arm processors, with the Samsung Galaxy Book S a recent example, while Microsoft has also confirmed plans to integrate the technology into the upcoming Surface Neo. It looks like the demand for Arm will only increase in the laptop industry.
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The Arm technology is also used in the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors, found in the majority of Android smartphone devices.
Due to a potential conflict of interest, it’s not guaranteed that Nvidia will be able to complete the acquisition of Arm Ltd. But if successful, there’s no doubt that such a move would give Nvidia further dominance over the computing industry.
Bloomberg reports that SoftBank is looking to sell in order to “to pay down debt at the Japanese conglomerate.” In contrast, Nvidia is in a very strong financial position having recently overtaken Intel as the most valuable US chipmaker. It’s been suggested by Reuters that Nvidia has benefited from the current Covid-19 crisis with more people making use of the company’s GPUs and data centres after being forced to work from home.