Estimating ARM's future earnings is relatively straightforward, and Softbank, like Berkshire, loves free cash flow. It doesn't require a visionary to go through the calculus of an acquisition under these parameters; it requires a team of shrewd finance professionals.
I'm not sure Intel would want to also take full control of ARM chips regardless of Antitrust regulations.
Whoever buys ARM can keep collecting the licensing fees, perhaps even increase the fees a bit. No platform is particularly tied to ARM in the long run, they just use it because ARM chips are cheap, fast and power efficient. If Intel tried to change the ARM licensing deals in monopolistic ways, then everyone would simply move to new chips. For example, Android has always been reasonably platform agnostic with their Java layer and Apple have been introducing platform independant binaries.
Intel CPU cost already way to much due to lacking competition from the only left x64 vendor AMD which is years behind. And Intel slowed down the release of faster CPUs. Where are the 8 and 16 core CPUs? Where are the 5+ GHz CPUs? Why hasn't the single core performance advanced that much (if you discount the advance of memory speed) since 2004 (Pentium 4 era).
Cinebench R10 32 bit single thread scores:
Intel Pentium 4 660 - 3.60 Ghz - 2245 Points
AMD Athlon X2 6000+ - 3.00 Ghz - 2848 Points
Intel Core2 Duo E8400 - 3.00 Ghz - 3647 Points
AMD Phenom II X6 1075T - 3.00 Ghz - 3820 Points
AMD FX 8320E - 3.20 Ghz - 4056 Points
Intel Core i7 950 - 3.06 Ghz - 4353 Points
Intel Core i7 3930 - 3.20 Ghz - 6268 Points
Intel Core i7 5960X - 3.00 Ghz - 6950 Points
A better traditional single thread benchmarks might be spec int base minus libquantum. That tests things like how good the branch predictors are relative to pipeline depth, how fast dependent instructions or pointer chasing can be handled, etc.
Would love to see someone do a benchmark like that (would do it myself if I had enough spare money), with equal clock and memory bandwith etc.
EDIT: after reading the critique about libquantum on wikipedia I'm even more interested in the benchmarks.
"In the SpecInt2006 benchmarks, the 462.libquantum benchmark is highly vectorizable. The baseline computer for all benchmarks is a 1997 Sun Ultrasparc server computer. Whereas most of the spec sub-benchmarks turn in a performance improvement of about 5x to 80x times faster than the Ultrasparc, the particular 462.libquantum sub-benchmark turns in a result that is up to 4082 times faster than the Sun Ultrasparc . This suggests that for this sub-benchmark, most of the improvements over the Ultrasparc are due to vectorizing compiler improvements, NOT due to CPU hardware improvements, since 1997."
AMD is coming with 32 cores - http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/222921-amd-is-supposedly-...
edit: I just looked; Intel has Haswell-based server processors with 24 physical cores
It has, but you have to use AVX and other new instruction sets. Singlethreaded, a fifth-gen Core m5 tablet CPU can be as fast as a first-gen Core i Xeon workstation CPU, and a sixth gen i7 desktop CPU can be twice as fast as both: https://admin.tao.at/post/evolution-of-cpu-efficiency/
(Sadly I don't have any Pentium 4s left to compare on. And of the Core2 generation only laptops.)
I assume you ask this question because ARM is absolutely killing Intel on mobile CPUs. Worse, Intel has tried to get into that space and ARM has handed Intel its head more than once. So this is not a dumb question.
But ARM makes a trivially small amount per CPU manufactured, making it up on volume. Intel takes a large amount of both revenue and profit on each piece silicon that goes out. And you can see the result: Intel's market cap is still 5X ARM's ($160 Bn to 30 Bn).
As an individual investor ARM is (was -- assuming this buyout goes through) probably a better investment than Intel since Intel is struggling to find new markets to expand into, with most of its revenue coming from a dead end business (PCs) while ARM is being pulled by many people into new, growth businesses. But because of its business model, an ARM acquisition would dilute Intel's results (its margin would drop).
For smaller companies it's OK to "eat your own lunch." This was in fact Sun's principle (which didn't work out for them so well) and Apple's (which has, so far). But when you get to be huge, it's hard to move the needle in a way that appeals to investors. Look at Apple: they have a crummy iPad business that, were it standalone, would be one of the phenomenal businesses of the decade. But when mixed in with the rest of Apple, it's simply blah.
Separately, I remain astonished that Intel killed its StrongARM business line. They definitely had the best ARM on the market and it played, I think, to their strengths. I think they were just afraid that it attacked their brand, which at the time was very expensive CPUs. But they could be dominating the mobile market now.
Well, ARM doesn't have those pesky chip fabs on their balance sheets, that's the licensee's problem. Accordingly, they have a profit margin of 30 percent, compared to INTC's 20.
Letting Intel have ARM would certainly be an antitrust situation given the sheer dominance Intel's I.P. would have at that point.
> He's taking advantage of the weak GBP thanks to the whole Brexit fiasco.
SoftBank's net-debt-to-equity ratio has risen from 0.6 to 3.5 from FY2011 to 2015: http://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/irinfo/financials/results/hig....
That being said, SoftBank purchased ARM using GBP (I assume), so they would need a way to convert their cheaply acquired JPY to GBP. I wonder if they are able to purchase foreign companies for JPY at, say, a 10% markup. The sellers would be able to sell this JPY on the market as soon as they receive it, and SoftCorp would be left with a brand new company in its portfolio and some JPY liabilities (they are issuing unsecured, subordinated (5-year?) JPY bonds at 2.5% p.a.: http://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/irinfo/stock/bond/).
For one, the young investment bankers and lawyers are accustomed to staying up late when there's a deal on. I used to live with one, and it was simply part of the job that the job was everything, all the time. Staying up an unhealthy amount is what they expect.
Also, this isn't a completely out-of-the-blue deal. Everyone in the M&A space would have given some thought as to which firms would potentially merge, and they would have made presentations to the bosses of the involved firms airing the pros and cons, the possible financials, the antitrust side, and various other issues.
In this case, at this size, my guess is they've been keeping tabs on ARM for a long time and maybe decided to just pull the trigger with Brexit going on.
"ARM is the proudest achievement of my life. The proposed sale to SoftBank is a sad day for me and for technology in Britain."
But now with this acquisition, is there any room for such generous mentality?
ARM wants to earn 1penny on every chip sold, but to put chips everywhere. So increasing royalties, but preventing market expansion is bad. Especially with the internet of appliances rapidly approaching.
Designing custom cores requires holding an architecture license which is ARM's highest-level license (beyond the perpetual multi-use — use a core in any product indefinitely — and the subscription — use any ARM product for a set duration). There are about a dozen architecture license holders.
>Japan’s SoftBank has agreed to acquire Arm Holdings, the UK’s preeminent technology company, for £23.4bn in an enormous bet by the Japanese telecoms group that the smartphone chip designer will make it a leader in one of the next big tech markets, the internet of things.
Apparently that is a 40% premium on market cap. 
For example, a SoftBank subsidiary can probably take out huge loans from UK/international institutions and collateral/pay the loan with other assets in other jurisdictions. I believe this is how many companies avoid repatriation taxes: by taking out a loan in the US and making the payments to financial institutions overseas.
They can hedge this (lock in the price in Yen or USD) now and be sure of not losing on currency shifts when it comes time to make the transaction work.
For large amounts, you call the broker, which I suppose whatever investment bank is running the deal will have figured out how to do.
But 24B is a drop in the ocean.
It's a lot of money but I'm not sure it's that much of a bet.
SoftBank had purchased Supercell for about $2B only a few years ago, so it was a genius investment. Will be interesting to see if they can turn ARM into another one of those.
Don't expect any major shakeup over the next 3 years though. Even if some customers decided to drop ARM right now, it would still take 3+ years before they come up with a strong RISC-V alternative. First, Android would have to give RISC-V its blessing (support it), too, but Google is a member of the RISC-V foundation, so I assume that's not an impossible task.
When I was applying for internships during my degree a couple of years ago I looked at US companies like Google and Oracle and ARM in the UK. I think ARM paid about a quarter of what Google and Oracle were offering. One quarter. And that's just cash before I included the housing, car costs and massive relocation grant that the US companies included and ARM didn't.
Today Glassdoor tells me that ARM pays interns about half, and graduates about 60%, of what Microsoft does, in the same city (Cambridge) a few miles apart.
But they have good people working for them so it must be enough I guess!
Does this mean that Microsoft Cambridge are offering graduates ~£50K? It's interesting that I consider that to be very high for a graduate salary yet, at USD 66K equivalent, it is significantly less than would be available in an area of the USA with a comparable cost of living...
That's about what I would expect. This is for PhD interns and grads I should have made more clear.
I'd say £32k is beyond taking the piss for someone with a CS undergraduate degree and having to live in Cambridge (you couldn't buy a house there on that) but if they're getting the people they want then it must be right for them.
Whilst it's not giant it's not super low either. I'd be surprised if you could find that many tech (that is not banking/consultancy) companies in Cambridge (or indeed London) offering signficantly more than that. There's also things like Bonus, Share Scheme and pension (private health insurance too but that's a pretty common perk) that needs to be brought in the comparison.
London is also more expensive than Cambridge (I doubt you'll buy a house a short distance from the office in London on a mid-level engineers salary at Google/Facebook, you can happily do that in Cambridge at ARM).
I'd also note hard-tech stuff just seems to attract less money than web/social (see how the recent linked-in acquisition by MS wasn't for much less cash than the Softbank ARM deal).
I'm not saying ARM is super generous with their compensation compare to other tech giants, but you get a pretty reasonable deal, and it's a nice place work with interesting things to work on.
(I work at ARM)
It's one thing to license an architecture from an independent, scrupulously neutral third party: another entirely to gamble your business platform's future on a rival's goodwill.
Softbank isn't an obvious direct platform-level competitor for Intel or Apple or Samsung or the others, so may be an acceptable acquisitor who won't frighten ARM's licensees into abandoning ship.
I'm glad that didn't happen though.
Tldr: Apple are more likely to move macOS to ARM than iOS to RISC-V
I'm laughing because integrators flocked from MIPS to ARM, and events could unfold such that they run back to MIPS etc
Obviously besides swimming in dollar
AFAIR the robots are running on Intel Atom, but well... embedded... ARM... (not saying that's the only reason though)
Editing standards at the Grey Lady have declined.
Disclaimer: I'm not related to the BBC
Correction: 2.2e10, as noted. Now I know I'm not thinking straight.