Nvidia Swallows ARM For $40 Billion

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American computer giant Nvidia has announced that it will, as long rumored, be gobbling up the British chip designer Arm in a $40 billion deal with now former Arm owner SoftBank Group. Nvidia promises to build a "state-of-the-art AI supercomputer" using Arm processors.

written by 林慧 (Wai Lin) 2020-09-15 - last edited 2020-09-15. © CC BY

Nvidia eats arm 2020-09-13.jpg
Arm will now become a Nvidia subsidiary.

American computer giant Nvidia has a market cap of $300 billion and a yearly net income of just $2.8 billion so $40 billion is a big deal, even to a giant like Nvidia. Nvidia will pay the $40 billion bill to Japanese Softbank with a combination of cash and shares.

The acquisition is a big deal in more ways than one: Nvidia is now the worlds largest CPU company. Intel and AMD currently rule the desktop, laptop and server markets but Arm is magnitudes larger in terms of processor designs sold. There's more Arm-designed processors sold than the combined sales of Intel, AMD and PowerPC processors. And Arm owns the Mali GPU design used by a lot of smartphones which makes Nvidia the by far biggest GPU company as well as the biggest CPU company.

Nvidia has historically been outright hostile towards the free software movement so the Arm acquisition may not be good news to free software enthusiasts.

Nvidia has promised to expain Arm's research and development operations in Cambridge, England, with a new "AI research and education center".

"In the years ahead, trillions of computers running AI will create a new internet-of-things that is thousands of times larger than today’s internet-of-people. Our combination will create a company fabulously positioned for the age of AI."

Nvidia founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang

It would not be surprising if we see 64+ core ARM servers with PCIe 4.0 and 8 DDR4 memory channels similar to the Huawei TaiShen server platform coming out of Nvidia next year.

"NVIDIA will build a state-of-the-art AI supercomputer, powered by Arm CPUs"

Nvidia founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang

Nvidia's interest in Arm appears to be clearly focused on data-center and supercomputer applications, not the smartphones, routers and refrigerators most of the existing Arm customers place Arm chips in. That high-end focus will likely result in more Arm-based mid-range consumer products like laptops and even desktop computers. Apple has already announced that all future Macbook laptops will use processors using the Arm architecture.

You can read Nvidia's full press release in the "Nvidia News Room".

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