SoftBank is said to be investigating the sale of ARM – a British chip designer that powers almost every major mobile processor from companies such as Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung and Huawei – and could now find a buyer. Nvidia is reportedly in “advanced talks” to buy ARM worth more than $ 32 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Nvidia is considered to be the only company currently engaged in specific negotiations with SoftBank, and the agreement could come “in the next few weeks”, although nothing has been completed yet. If the agreement is reached, it will be one of the largest computer chip stores ever, and would probably require intense regulatory scrutiny.
SoftBank bought ARM in 2016 for $ 31 billion, and the value of ARM has increased since then, as its designs have become an increasingly integral part of Android and iOS devices. Microsoft already produces an ARM-based surface and an ARM version of Windows; Apple also recently announced that it will recently switch its Macs to ARM-based chipsets for the company. As SoftBank seeks to repay its growing pile of debt to appease troubled investors, the sale of ARM at its peak could help boost Japan’s technology conglomerate finances.
Nvidia would make an interesting owner of ARM – while the company is a leader in GPUs (which ARM also designs), it has little to do with processor design or mobile hardware outside of its line of Tegra mobile chipsets (most commonly used by Nintendo). Switch and a series of Nvidia Shield set-top boxes), which are actually based on ARM designs.
Owning ARM would give Nvidia much more power in the wider world of computing and would likely give rise to some regulatory control, as Nvidia is an ARM customer that competes with other companies that also rely on ARM’s proposals.