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Nvidia has approached Softbank and is considering buying ARM Holdings

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DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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That is baffling. So he's taking ARM China and making them lose basically all the advantage of ARM, by developing an entirely separate processor?
ARM China has access to ARMv8.x up to A77/A55. So they could iterate upon that and create their own standards to end-run the ongoing tech embargo the United States has against China. There is no guarantee that their work would bear fruit.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
798
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But what if some instruction implementations are bugged ? How can one tell if such a scenario is in deliberate design or simply a genuine error ? :smilingimp:

How would two corporations go about arbitrating these potential violations ? What would enforcement of compliance look like ? Are non-compliant implementations forced to do emulation via microcode or is this a matter for the courts to decide ?
WTF are you talking about? An instruction can't be "bugged" in a way that would affect an architectural licensee! The ISA basically a list of hex opcodes, modifiers, and what inputs, outputs and side effects (like setting carry bit or whatever) an instruction has.
 

jpiniero

Lifer
Oct 1, 2010
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The odds of Apple moving the Mac to RISC-V any time soon are pretty much nil.
You can pretty much guarantee if the deal goes through at the very least that Apple will fork as far as their license allows. May as well move to their own ISA anyway eventually.
 

JasonLD

Senior member
Aug 22, 2017
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You can pretty much guarantee if the deal goes through at the very least that Apple will fork as far as their license allows. May as well move to their own ISA anyway eventually.
Only thing Apple licenses from ARM is their instruction sets and Apple is pretty much already on their own in terms of architecture. It won't be another decade until Apple even considers moving to another direction anyways.
 
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Thala

Golden Member
Nov 12, 2014
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You can pretty much guarantee if the deal goes through at the very least that Apple will fork as far as their license allows. May as well move to their own ISA anyway eventually.
Apple has no interest in moving out of the ARM ecosystem, which they benefit greatly from - thats like shooting themselfs in the foot.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
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You can pretty much guarantee if the deal goes through at the very least that Apple will fork as far as their license allows. May as well move to their own ISA anyway eventually.
Why would Apple "fork" any more or less depending on whether NVidia controls ARM? What exactly do you expect NVidia to do, figure out a way to screw all the licensees as much as possible?

The value of ARM is in the ecosystem, if they scare the ecosystem away and ARM becomes a proprietary ISA what the hell did they pay $40 billion for?

Please tell us EXACTLY what you think Apple would gain by having a proprietary ISA over their current situation? They can already design whatever core they want, it just has to execute the current ARM ISA. They are not under any obligation to make their cores execute ANY future ARM ISA, so if NVidia takes it in a crappy direction then Apple can just stay where they are and continue making ARMv8.x (or maybe ARMv9.x as I have to imagine they have license that by now whether or not they have designed any ARM9.x cores yet or have any plans to) cores in the future.

Their license allows them the option (which they have already exercised with instructions to deal with AMX) to add their own custom instructions to their ARM cores, so whatever benefit you imagine them having with their own ISA they already have today if they want it. The only thing using their own ISA would allow them to do is remove instructions - but while they have to make their ARM cores execute all instructions in the ISA nothing says they have to use them. They don't have to make their compilers generate them, they don't have to make them perform well if they don't want them used, etc.
 

jpiniero

Lifer
Oct 1, 2010
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What exactly do you expect NVidia to do, figure out a way to screw all the licensees as much as possible?
That's irrelevant to Apple but yes absolutely. At a bare minimum you should expect NV to jack up the fees.

Please tell us EXACTLY what you think Apple would gain by having a proprietary ISA over their current situation?
Not paying the licensing fees for starters. Apple hates nVidia enough that they'd do it just to not deal with them.
 
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DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
17,868
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Apple has a perpetual design license for ARMv8.x do they not? If they want to stay on ARMv8, they can do that forever without paying NV anything extra. Of course we've gone over that already . . .
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
4,228
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Why would Apple "fork" any more or less depending on whether NVidia controls ARM? What exactly do you expect NVidia to do, figure out a way to screw all the licensees as much as possible?
Absolutely.

They can already design whatever core they want, it just has to execute the current ARM ISA.
Says who? It's not like Apple has to adhere to anything when they have complete control over both their hard and software. No 3rd parties here to worry about, and they've repeatedly shown they willing to dump architectures that don't fit them. See PowerPC, x86 f.x.
 

ThatBuzzkiller

Golden Member
Nov 14, 2014
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WTF are you talking about? An instruction can't be "bugged" in a way that would affect an architectural licensee! The ISA basically a list of hex opcodes, modifiers, and what inputs, outputs and side effects (like setting carry bit or whatever) an instruction has.
You've obviously never designed logic circuits before based on your response ...

An instruction CAN and WILL be bugged if we take Intel's infamous FDIV bug for an example where use of these opcodes led to inconsistent results from time to time. More recent or relevant examples include transactional memory since virtually all commercial implementations are deemed non-compliant ...

An ISA implementation is more than what you state it to be. The biggest component behind ISA implementation is the logic design by far. How can you expect the architects to always get the logic behind these instructions right when buggy silicon gets released or when concepts such as validation exists in the real world ?
 

guidryp

Golden Member
Apr 3, 2006
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That's irrelevant to Apple but yes absolutely. At a bare minimum you should expect NV to jack up the fees.

Not paying the licensing fees for starters. Apple hates nVidia enough that they'd do it just to not deal with them.
This kind of anthropomorphizing of company emotions, is a figment of forum dweller imaginations, and has no bearing on how companies work in the real world.

Companies routinely sue each other and continue to work well together on other projects. Companies don't hate, they aren't people, they are corporate structures for doing business and making money.

NVidia is not trying to buy ARM only to ruin the asset they paid Billions for by driving everyone away. It makes much more sense that NVidia is looking to expand the ARM ecosystem and expand additional NVidia IP sales to this new channel. This is both more logical and exactly what they stated as their intention.
 
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guidryp

Golden Member
Apr 3, 2006
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Apple has a perpetual design license for ARMv8.x do they not? If they want to stay on ARMv8, they can do that forever without paying NV anything extra. Of course we've gone over that already . . .
No. Perpetual License is lower tier than what Apple has. Apple has the top license, which is the Architectural license.

Fifteen or more companies have an architectural license. There is nothing unique about this.

Architectural licensees, still pay a royalty fee for each part they sell.
 

jpiniero

Lifer
Oct 1, 2010
10,130
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This kind of anthropomorphizing of company emotions, is a figment of forum dweller imaginations, and has no bearing on how companies work in the real world.
You should look into Apple's relationship with nVidia before saying that.

My expectation is that nVidia is going to deliver a full lineup of smartphone/desktop/laptop/server processors. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they'd want to eliminate the competition as much as they can.That's why you spend $40 billion dollars.
 

guidryp

Golden Member
Apr 3, 2006
1,428
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You should look into Apple's relationship with nVidia before saying that.
Not using their products doesn't equal hate. Does Apple never using AMD CPUs/APUs mean they hate the AMD CPU division?

Not only are you erroneously assigning emotions to corporations, but you are assigning the emotions of children.

"Oh no, ARM is dating my hated enemy NVidia, must now shun ARM"...
 

Nothingness

Platinum Member
Jul 3, 2013
2,175
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An ISA implementation is more than what you state it to be. The biggest component behind ISA implementation is the logic design by far. How can you expect the architects to always get the logic behind these instructions right when buggy silicon gets released or when concepts such as validation exists in the real world ?
Implementation is not the biggest component of new instructions. It matters a lot as obviously an instruction must be implementable in an efficient way. But software support, validation, software modeling before RTL is available matter and cost much more than the first implementation.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
798
1,176
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You've obviously never designed logic circuits before based on your response ...

An instruction CAN and WILL be bugged if we take Intel's infamous FDIV bug for an example where use of these opcodes led to inconsistent results from time to time. More recent or relevant examples include transactional memory since virtually all commercial implementations are deemed non-compliant ...

An ISA implementation is more than what you state it to be. The biggest component behind ISA implementation is the logic design by far. How can you expect the architects to always get the logic behind these instructions right when buggy silicon gets released or when concepts such as validation exists in the real world ?

The FDIV bug was an error in implementation, not a bug in the ISA! ARM is not giving Apple VHDL for the various instructions and requiring them to place that in their design. The ISA definition is more akin to "FDIV is opcode xxxx, and has modifiers to tell which registers are the sources and destinations, produces this output conformant to IEEE754 sets the following flags depending on if there is carry, overflow, etc. and traps in the following circumstances. Yes there is more detail than that, but they do NOT tell Apple or others how to do the logic design to implement the various instructions. That's totally up to Apple to figure out on their own.

It is perfectly possible for ARM designed cores to have an FDIV like bug, and Apple's to not, or vice versa. Indeed, it would be almost impossible for both implementations to have the same bug. If what you claim were true then AMD would have had the same FDIV bug since they implemented Intel's ISA - they are essentially an "architectural licensee" of x86 (though it goes both ways since AMD designed the x86-64 ISA)

So no can't "bug" an ISA, but you certainly can produce a buggy implementation of that ISA.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
798
1,176
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That's irrelevant to Apple but yes absolutely. At a bare minimum you should expect NV to jack up the fees.

They can't jack up the fees, Apple has a contracted license with ARM that outlives any sale or transfer of the company to another.

Do you really think Apple's executive team and lawyers are dumb enough to sign a contract that would allow ARM or a future owner of ARM to increase their costs without limit? That stuff will all be clearly covered in the architectural license, and is not subject to change just because NVidia decides "hey lets make Apple pay 10x more so we can make more money!" Anymore than if you have a lease I can buy the building and decide that tomorrow you're going to pay 2x the rent per month because I want to make money.
 

jpiniero

Lifer
Oct 1, 2010
10,130
2,377
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Not using their products doesn't equal hate. Does Apple never using AMD CPUs/APUs mean they hate the AMD CPU division?
Since the answer appears to be no, I'll give you a good example. Apple banned nVidia from writing updated OSX drivers. Not "we won't help you", it was "your driver won't be allowed".

Do you really think Apple's executive team and lawyers are dumb enough to sign a contract that would allow ARM or a future owner of ARM to increase their costs without limit? That stuff will all be clearly covered in the architectural license, and is not subject to change just because NVidia decides "hey lets make Apple pay 10x more so we can make more money!"
I'm sure the deal has a time limit where it gets renegotiated every so often. It's probably a bigger deal for other ARM licenses more than Apple.
 

JasonLD

Senior member
Aug 22, 2017
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Since the answer appears to be no, I'll give you a good example. Apple banned nVidia from writing updated OSX drivers. Not "we won't help you", it was "your driver won't be allowed".
Not allowing Nvidia supporting GPUs on Mac is very minor concern and probably wont affect Apple financially in any degree, but moving away from ARM at this point of time would be a very costly move. Why would Apple bother moving away from ARM when it probably wont affect them even if Nvidia acquisition happens? Now dont give me a stupid answer like “Apple hates Nvidia enough…blah blah blah” lol.
 

Doug S

Senior member
Feb 8, 2020
798
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Since the answer appears to be no, I'll give you a good example. Apple banned nVidia from writing updated OSX drivers. Not "we won't help you", it was "your driver won't be allowed".



I'm sure the deal has a time limit where it gets renegotiated every so often. It's probably a bigger deal for other ARM licenses more than Apple.
Why would it have a time limit if Apple is paying per year, especially if there is some modest per core component as well? It isn't like a lease where there's scarcity, wear and tear, maintenance etc. involved. If there is a time limit it would be a VERY long time horizon - like the 99 year leases that are typical for a ground lease.

No one would sign such an agreement on say a 10 year term where they could be caught in a situation where "oh hey we'd like to renew for another 10 years since this expires next year" and be told "sure, it will cost you 10x as much now that you've got your entire business depending on this license".
 

jpiniero

Lifer
Oct 1, 2010
10,130
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"oh hey we'd like to renew for another 10 years since this expires next year" and be told "sure, it will cost you 10x as much now that you've got your entire business depending on this license".
Not sure why you think that since that happens all the time in business.

Why would Apple bother moving away from ARM when it probably wont affect them even if Nvidia acquisition happens?
That's what I'm saying. It will. It's not just Apple, anyone with an ARM license is going to be affected. Apple can pretty clearly see what's going to happen and is trying to be proactive. They've always been wanting to do things on their own so their own instruction set seems an inevitable outcome anyway.
 
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DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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No. Perpetual License is lower tier than what Apple has. Apple has the top license, which is the Architectural license.
Thanks for the correction. That's what I meant, but I named it incorrectly. Regardless, they can stay on ARMv8 for as long as they like.
 

Roland00Address

Platinum Member
Dec 17, 2008
2,046
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That's irrelevant to Apple but yes absolutely. At a bare minimum you should expect NV to jack up the fees.



Not paying the licensing fees for starters. Apple hates nVidia enough that they'd do it just to not deal with them.
But the current fee rates and the ability to create their own cores are "Locked In" with the current agreement. nVidia can charge extra for "new stuff" but Apple also doesn't have to implement the new stuff, and they are able to create their own new stuff at the old price rate with the architecture license.

Apple got the best rates when the best rates were "cheaper."
 

Thala

Golden Member
Nov 12, 2014
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That's what I'm saying. It will. It's not just Apple, anyone with an ARM license is going to be affected. Apple can pretty clearly see what's going to happen and is trying to be proactive. They've always been wanting to do things on their own so their own instruction set seems an inevitable outcome anyway.
Apple cannot and will not sustain their own instruction set - because they would instantly lose the huge benefits of being in the ARM ecosystem.
 

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