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Nvidia has approached Softbank and is considering buying ARM Holdings

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jpiniero

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2010
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They have a perpetual v8.x license. They don't actually *need* to stay ARM compliant if nVidia were to buy them
My understanding is that the ARM licensing terms say they have to. Not to mention the licensing terms (and the rates!) are probally not perpetual. That's what I mean by an out, Apple has to have a plan, because they are not paying a dime to nVidia.
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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Nvidia already has an ARM architectural license (for their Denver custom CPU), and they could surely have acquired Nuvia for much less than $40bn. Hell, they could have bought Vulcan when Broadcom were shopping it around, or XGene from AppliedMicro. Or the laid off Samsung CPU team. There are a lot of options short of buying ARM that would let them build a credible server chip.
If/when nVidia actually buys ARM, they gain control of the Neoverse reference platform which the (admittedly struggling) ARMy seems to be using in no small part for their designs. If NV alters future Neoverse designs to integrate key elements of NVLink into the reference platform, boom, now NV has compatibility for their star product (compute accelerators) built into all ARM server hardware that licenses any part of ARM Holdings' interconnects.

NV is betting that, in the long run, ARM will have a place in the server/HPC products where they sell their accelerators, and they're trying to make a permanent home for them. Intel and AMD would like nothing more than to push NV out of that space (and off any future x86 system).
 
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SarahKerrigan

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Oct 12, 2014
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My understanding is that the ARM licensing terms say they have to. Not to mention the licensing terms (and the rates!) are probally not perpetual. That's what I mean by an out, Apple has to have a plan, because they are not paying a dime to nVidia.
Apple is going to pay many dimes to Nvidia.

They are not going to do another ISA transition this soon, nor do they have any particularly good reason to. Companies aren't people.
 
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Roland00Address

Golden Member
Dec 17, 2008
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Apple would not have allowed the acquisition to happen if that was the case. They hate nVidia that much, even Qualcomm doesn't compare.
Seems you are having feelings about this relationship that you are highly invested in this. That you expect apple to mirror these feelings to a tune of $40 billion dollars.
 
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SarahKerrigan

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Oct 12, 2014
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It's the truth. They've literally gone out of their way to prevent nVidia from supporting their dGPUs on OSX for instance. You got bumpgate, you got the patent lawsuits...
Nonetheless, Apple is not going to set billions of dollars in new R&D and developer goodwill on fire by doing another platform transition literally a year after the last one. They are a publicly held company. "I just lost a bunch of your money, shareholders, because I don't like Nvidia" is the fast way to face a lawsuit from the large institutional investors who have significant holdings in Apple.
 

jpiniero

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2010
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Nonetheless, Apple is not going to set billions of dollars in new R&D and developer goodwill on fire by doing another platform transition literally a year after the last one. They are a publicly held company. "I just lost a bunch of your money, shareholders, because I don't like Nvidia" is the fast way to face a lawsuit from the large institutional investors who have significant holdings in Apple.
I would say that a fork is the most likely scenario even though I don't think the license allows for it.
 

Roland00Address

Golden Member
Dec 17, 2008
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It's the truth. They've literally gone out of their way to prevent nVidia from supporting their dGPUs on OSX for instance. You got bumpgate, you got the patent lawsuits...
The WSJ reported that SoftBank was interested in selling ARM, that they hired Goldman Sachs to proctor a sale or an IPO for you need a big bank to do the paperwork, and that Nvidia was interested in ARM, literally two months ago on the 13th.

If Apple wanted to stop the sale by buying stock, or doing a consortium, or buying it outright then had two months of opportunities to do so. Even if the goal was to just make Nvidia pay more out of spite Apple has all these tools to do so.

The lack of action in this area makes me skeptical that Apple hates Nvidia that much. Yes they no longer trust Nvidia as a hardware partner. Yes they want to control the driver stack for Nvidia drivers were frequent causes of kernel panics in OSX, etc, etc.
 

JasonLD

Senior member
Aug 22, 2017
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My understanding is that the ARM licensing terms say they have to. Not to mention the licensing terms (and the rates!) are probally not perpetual. That's what I mean by an out, Apple has to have a plan, because they are not paying a dime to nVidia.
Apple doesn't have a choice this time. It is just like Apple's relationship with Samsung. They will not attempt to avoid them to the point of hurting their own bottom line.
 

Stuka87

Diamond Member
Dec 10, 2010
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nVidia buying ARM is pretty much across the board bad for everybody except nVidia. Really having any sort of tech company in control of one of the core technologies used globally is bad. Its gives nVidia immense power.

I am sure every single company that uses ARM is unhappy about this as they now have to compete against the owners of the technology they rely on. There is literally nothing stopping nVidia from keeping every other company one generation back from what they themselves use.
 

dark zero

Platinum Member
Jun 2, 2015
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The buyout of the year. My guesses might be:
- ARM CPU development won't be affected by now. But with the current situation some licenses will be stuck in certain version (ARM v8 or v9 if they made a negotiation before)
- ARM GPU development on the other hand seems to meet it's end after this generation. nVIDIA would introduce their own approach after said generation in order to win more money

- The licenses might be perpetual, but they might pay if they want to meet the standards of ARM. I see Apple and Huawei starting their own way to be apart from that standard. But for different reasons each one.
- Qualcomm, Samsung and everyone who has CPU custom cores won't be that affected at all. Well.. not that much for Samsung, they need to make their little cores custom too then if they want to go with AMD GPU
- However the ones who might be totally affected would be Mediatek, UNISOC, Amlogic and the ones who goes to the standard licence in order to save cost. It might be even mean the end of the road for them.

Even worse if the politics enters with full force and bans the chinese companies to renew the licence. This won't look well, since only Huawei seems to have the full licence to make a fully custom core from CPU to GPU.
 
Apr 30, 2015
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FT.COM states that "Nvidia seals $40Billion deal for Softbank's Arm.
Britain set to impose strict terms including protection of jobs and maintaining UK headquarters"
 
Apr 30, 2015
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My guess is that Arm Ltd will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Nvidia; it is a British company under Softbank ownership, but is registered at Companies House, Cardiff, UK.
Arm Ltd was formerly Advanced Risc Machines, but changed its name to ARM Ltd.
In my opinion, you do not buy a company for $40Billion, for your own private SoC designer, and this may be forbidden by the UK Govt.
I believe that Nvidia are looking 5 to 10 years ahead. Fujitsu do not use GPGPUs in their HPC, and Arm have stated that it is not necessary for HPC. It is not clear yet, but Nvidia's future in HPC may be limited.
I would expect them to use a holding company to run Nvidia Ltd as a separate business to Arm Ltd. They may co-operate, but keep separate.
 
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StinkyPinky

Diamond Member
Jul 6, 2002
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So how would this impact companies that use ARM based processors? Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung come to mind, but obviously there are hundreds of companies that use ARM based technology. What's to stop Nvidia saying to Apple "Nope, you can't use our tech anymore"?
 

Stuka87

Diamond Member
Dec 10, 2010
5,024
770
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So how would this impact companies that use ARM based processors? Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung come to mind, but obviously there are hundreds of companies that use ARM based technology. What's to stop Nvidia saying to Apple "Nope, you can't use our tech anymore"?
Current agreements would still stand. However, future versions of ARM could be held back by nVidia for themselves, and keep their competitors on an older version. It also gives them power over future licensing agreements. Currently you can license a given version or design for perpetuity. But that license wont cover new versions of ARM, or new ARM chip designs.

Lot of unknowns still. But people that use arm should be unhappy that a competitor now controls the technology they rely on.
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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@StinkyPinky

To build on what @Stuka87 has said:

Apple, Samsung, and any other design firm that has an unlimited license to ARMv8 will be able to continue making their own ARMv8 CPUs. Samsung has previously halted their in-house Exynos development (in favor of reference ARM designs), but there is no reason why they can't go back.

Any firm that licenses specific designs from ARM will continue to be able to use those designs. A76-A78, etc.

Any future ISA improvements nVidia makes (ARMv9 and beyond) will require new licensing agreements. New specific designs (Matterhorn/whatever comes after A78) will require new licensing agreements.

Future iterations of the Neoverse reference design and associated interconnects will require new licensing terms/agreements.

@SarahKerrigan

I don't think Apple will owe nVidia anything unless they sign new licensing agreements. The existing ARMv8 license should cover all their in-house CPU design needs, at least for awhile. And there's nothing stopping them from just staying on that ISA in perpetuity.
 
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