Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm still faces regulatory and licensing challenges, and in a webcast on Sept. 14, Jensen Huang, Nvidia CEO, addressed
issues surrounding competition as well as licensing to China once the deal completes.
The deal has been in the talks for months and has made nearly everyone wonder about its regulatory well-being. Would owning the design of the chip manufacturer grant Nvidia too much power in the AI market, an area the company’s already aggressively attacking with its graphics processors? Although questions still linger over regulatory decisions, Nvidia maintains that it would continue to be vendor-neutral. Huang says that the Arm purchase will benefit Arm partners by offering even more IP than before.
“We would like to offer the number one, to keep the business model exactly as it was before. Open and fair. And in fact, offer all of those all of our customers even more IP, I think is going to be very exciting,” said Huang.
Nvidia has had previous ventures in low-powered system-on-chips (SoC) using Arm processors. For example, the Nvidia Tegra SoC, currently powers the Nintendo Switch gaming console. Although the Arm acquisition can appear like a move into mobile, Nvidia’s foremost goal is to leverage it to expand its presence in the enterprise AI market space. Bringing Arm under its wing could see the company melding its technologies from both its graphics and processor segment to accelerate its AI ventures.
Arm, previously known as Advanced RISC machine, doesn’t actually make its own chips. Instead, it lets chip manufacturers borrow its processor architecture (and its associated instruction set) through licensing agreements and collect royalties. Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, Nvidia and many others all produce system-on-chip (SoC) based on Arm’s processor cores.
According to Digitimes, Arm generated US$1.8 billion in revenue in 2019 and US$1.0 billion in the first half of 2020. Despite its lucrative outlook, SoftBank had to sell Arm to recuperate its losses in defunct startups.
Arm also grants a degree of flexibility in architecture customization. Chipmakers can modify Arm’s processor designs and brand them as their own. A poignant example is Qualcomm’s Kryo CPU cores that are modified versions of Arm Cortex.
The deal has been in the talks for months and has made nearly everyone wonder about its regulatory well-being. Would owning the design of the chip manufacturer grant Nvidia too much power in the AI market, an area the company’s already aggressively attacking with its graphics processors?
In March, Nvidia acquired Mellanox, a network and interconnect company, for US$6.9 billion. According to the press brief, Mellanox interconnects can be found in over 250 of today’s top 500 fastest supercomputers and have a presence in every major cloud service provider and computer maker.
With the acquisition now complete, Nvidia has three computing platforms: Arm for CPUs, Nvidia’s graphics for hardware-accelerated tasks and AI, and Mellanox for the network.
Nvidia’s goal is, of course, to drive its…
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