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This is terrible. Not really just because of Nvidia - which has a lot of problems I've previously commented on the rumors of this [1] - but Nvidia's ownership completely changes ARM's incentives.

ARM created a business model for itself where they had to act as a "BDFL" for the ARM architecture and IP. They made an architecture, CPU designs, and GPU designs for others. They had no stake in the chip making game, and they had others - Samsung, Apple, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Huawei, Mediatek, Rockchip and loads of others make the chip. Their business model was to make the ARM ecosystem accessible for as many companies as possible, so they could sell as many licenses as possible. In that way, ARM's business model enabled a very diverse and thriving ARM market. I think this is the sole reason we see ARM eating the chip world today.

This business model would continue to work perfectly fine as a privately held company, or being owned by a faceless investor company that wants you to make as much money as possible. But it's not fine if you are owned by a company that wants to use you to control their own position in the chip market. There is no way Nvidia (any other chip company, but as laid out previously Nvidia might even be more concerning) will spend 40 billion on this without them deliberately or inadvertently destroying ARM's open CPU and GPU ecosystem. Will Nvidia allow selling ARM licenses to competitors of Nvidia's business? Will Nvidia reserve ARM's best IP as a selling point for its own chips? Will Nvidia allow Mali to continue existing? Any innovations ARM made previously it sold to anyone mostly indiscriminatorily (outside of legal restrictions), but now every time the question must be asked "does Nvidia have a better propietary purpose for this?". For any ARM chip maker the situation will be that Nvidia is both your ruthless competitor, but it also sells you the IP you need to build your chips.

EDIT: ARM's interests up to last week were to create and empower as many competitors for Nvidia as possible. They were good at that and was the root of the success of the ARM ecosystem. That incentive is completely gone now.

Unless Nvidia leaves ARM alone (and why would they spend $40B on that??), this has got to be the beginning of the end of ARM's golden age.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24010821

Precisely, plus just consider the information that Nvidia will have on all its competitors who use Arm IP.

- It will know of their product plans (as they will need to buy licenses for new products).

- It will know their sales volumes by product (as they will need to pay fees for each Arm CPU sold).

- If they need technical help from Arm in designing a new SoC then the details of that engagement will be available to Nvidia.

How does this not give Nvidia an completely unfair advantage?

I wouldn't use the term "unfair" here. There's also just three x86 licensees in the world and people don't usually consider that an affront. You buy, you control, that's how the world works.

But I do think it's important that we recognize that we're going from a position of tremendous competitiveness to a much less competitive situation. And that will be a situation where ARM will be tightly controlled and much less inducive to the innovation we've seen in the last years.

> There's also just three x86 licensees in the world and people don't usually consider that an affront.

Hi! Counterexample here.


Especially because of the x86 oligopoly I would think that Arm is so much more important as an ecosystem.

The three licensees would be Intel, AMD and VIA

VIA doesn't have a license for the AMD64 instruction set, however. Intel and AMD did a cross-licensing deal so they have a co-equal position.

Which hasn't kept them from building 64-bit cores with everything including AVX-512..


IIRC you watch the "Rise of the Centaur" documentary they talk about the Intel lawsuit, and the corresponding counter suit that they won. Which makes the whole thing sound like MAD.

More interesting there is https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/zhaoxin/kaixian

Why doesn't someone like, say, TSMC acquire VIA in a deal where M&A experts do all their jugglery and cunning to make the licensing stay I wonder?

Because TSMC can't compete with their customers and of them is AMD, I believe. TSMC promised not to build their chips, AFAIK, for exactly non-competition reason.

VIA isn't privy to the cross-licensing agreement Intel/AMD signed which gives them full access to the other's technology portfolio (since AMD was a second source foundry for Intel, while Cyrix/VIA was not). However, the Court ruled (when they were still Cyrix) that they are allowed to sell any clean-room designed x86 hardware. So while they don't have access to internal architectural documents, they're allowed to reverse-engineer/duplicate x86.

In some ways, it actually frees them up a bit; as they don't have to reciprocate any efforts with Intel. Which they tried to leverage with their Padlock technology. Unfortunately, their marketshare limits any real practical usage of those benefits.

> they are allowed to sell any clean-room designed x86 hardware

Uuuuh, presumably the case was about patents, right? I don't see how cleanroom-ing is fine with regard to patents.

Source: https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/8...

Summary: Cyrix (and subsequently, VIA) have an implied license to Intel's patents; allowing them to develop x86 hardware.

How that differs from AMD: AMD and Intel have a full cross-license on technologies. This means, AMD can utilize Intel resources to integrate AVX-512, a ring-bus, etc (and vice versa). VIA can not. They must develop those technologies independently, in a compatible manner.

That case was about patents, but I'm not sure patents are as central here. Right now, there is a patent minescape of mutually assured destruction between everyone. If anyone exercises their patent rights, no one can make anything modern, and the whole industry would come screeching to a halt.

Oddly enough, integrated circuits have their own IP scheme. IP has copyright, patent right, trade secrets, trademarks, and mask works. You rarely learn about mask works, since they're so narrow.


I think a lot of this would hinge on that corner of the law.

Thankfully those patents are about to expire.

The original patents have expired.

The problem with waiting for the patents to expire is you're always stuck 20 years behind.

The ones necessary for x86-64, I mean.

Being 20 years behind isn't a particularly big deal if those 20 years are basically just SSE3, SSE4, AVX.

That's a good point. I guess it is "unfair" but that isn't necessarily an argument against it - as you say lots of things are unfair.

But, given the high market share of Arm in several markets allowing one firm the ability to use that market share to gain competitive advantage in related markets seems to me to be deeply problematic.

Noob question: how does the x86 licensing work? Does Intel still own the rights? Why would they license to AMD? Why don’t they license to others?

Very briefly:

- They don't license because they can make a lot more money manufacturing the chips themselves.

- AMD also has the right to x86 because Intel originally allowed them to build x86 compatible chips (some customers insisted on a 'second source' for cpus) and following legal action and settlements between the two companies over the years there is now a comprehensive cross licensing agreement in place. [1]

- Note that AMD actually designed the 64 bit version x86 that is used in most laptops / desktops and servers these days.

[1] https://www.kitguru.net/components/cpu/anton-shilov/amd-clar...

> some customers insisted on a 'second source' for cpus

IBM required it. It was their business MO to protect themselves from losing access to a technology or having the market be dictated by one company. Intel acquiesced so that they would be the architecture of the IBM PC-series.

Afaik they could implement the ISA but not the Intel interconnect bus so AMD licensed Hypertransport (as used in the Alpha) from DEC so you had different motherboards/chipsets.

All second source AMD (and other manufacturer) chips were pin-compatible with Intel chips. Compare the i386/am386, the i486/am486, etc. Even a few non-second source (e.g. the unique uArchs that came later) designs were still pin-compatible, such as the 5x86 and K6/K6-II/K6-III. In fact, the third parties were the first to break away from electrical compatibility with their Super Socket 7 motherboards.

Intel did change sockets as a means to disallow socket-compatibility; forcing consumers into their architecture if they bought their motherboard, but that had no effect on AMD's development. AMD had purchased a significant share of DEC's engineering portfolio and, along with it, their employees. Those employees then developed the K7 (Athlon) architecture around some of the Alpha's technological advantages, which included HyperTransport, a multi-issue FPU (fixing one of the major issues AMD had struggled with and bringing them ahead of Intel), etc.

Those cross licenses are the only reason why this laptop isn't running on Itanium, without them there wouldn't exist AMD64.

The 'only' reasons (plural) that your laptop does not run Itanium: - battery life: an Itanium in a laptop would run for less than an your - too hot: Itanium servers ran incredibly hot due to power. A laptop would probably catch fire in short order - Windows was not supported on Itanium - cost: would you pay $5K for an Itanium laptop?

some customers? I heard it was IBM.

In simplest terms, the AMD & Intel perpetual license goes all the way back to the early 80s and Intel has tried to legally harangue their way out of it ever since, with limited success.

Not really. Intel hasn't shown any legal or business moves to try to cancel it ever since they developed EM64T and integrated it in their entire product line. AMD existing protects them from antitrust considerations. They would just prefer AMD stay in the budget realm so they can continue selling high margin products (enthusiast, laptop and server chips) without competition.

Not that they would complain if AMD lost their license or ceased existing, they just don't seem to actively be trying to cancel the license at this point.

> You buy, you control, that's how the world works.

Only in countries with poor regulators like the states does it work like this.

No, it works like that all across the world in fact.

It works like that in Japan: say hello to the many giant conglomerates that rule their economy top to bottom.

It works like that in South Korea: say hello to Samsung, roughly 12% of South Korea's GDP in a given year (Walmart by contrast is equal to 2.5% of US GDP, and that's crazy big).

It works like that in Germany: say hello to a parade of big old industrial giants that have dominated their economy for most of the past century and will continue to.

It works like that in China, openly so: they intentionally go out of their way to promote giant national champions at the expense of everyone else.

It works like that in France: their largest corporations and richest individuals are even larger in relation to their economy and national wealth than they are in the US (say hello to Arnault, Bettencourt, Pinault and the Wertheimers).

It works like that in Russia: say hello to the countless, directly state protected oligarchs. Threaten their interests, you die. Their approach is super simple.

It works like that in Italy and Spain, which are both dominated by old, large corporations and family interests. Which heavily explains their forever economic stagnation.

It even works like that in Switzerland: ever see how large their financial companies are in relation to the economy? Who do you think actually runs Switzerland? Their banks are comically outsized versus the size of the economy.

It completely works like that in Brazil and India.

It works like that across all of the Middle East, to a much greater degree than most anywhere else.

It works like that in second tier economies, including: Poland, Mexico, Argentina, Romania, Turkey, Thailand.

It works like that in poor countries, including: Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Ukraine, South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh.

Hey now, don't bring Pakistan in to this. We are owned by the military, not some puny corporation. Our biggest industrialists/companies barely hit a few billion dollars in yearly revenue, and they do it by keeping their head down and staying quiet.

Sales of important companies have to be approved by regulators, e.g. "Reuters: EU regulators approve ArcelorMittal to buy Italian peer Ilva".


Yes. But are they successful. It is AMD that kick intel not the other way round both architecture x86 64 bit) and now through working with others (Taiwan which is not in your list) to break their hardware.

Might and reality is not right.

We need competition. We adore competition. And even the countries you quote many do have competition. You just do not innovate and of course one can try to stop and rest. But the works does not.

Be water not mountain my friend.

Without AMD I could be enjoying Itanium nowadays.

Itanic was sinking from the start, it wouldn't be unlikely that Intel would've invented something like amd64 just a few years later if AMD didn't do the smart thing.

You can pick any colour as long as it is black.

American company buys a British company from a Japanese company.

How exactly is this only like in the states?

I dont even think this is about CPUs. This purchase is consolidation of two GPU companies. I've said it before, as Risc-V further commoditizes CPUs, the differentiator will be who has graphics. In that light, this is pure consolidation.

I have a lot of respect for RISC-V but I really struggle with an unqualified statement that RISC-V "is" commoditising CPUs in a meaningful way when there are basically no mobile, desktop or server chipsets with a meaningful presence in the market. All that may change over the next 10 years but who knows? For now x86 is dominant on servers and Arm in mobile.

In reality Arm commoditised in many markets CPUs by making reasonable designs available to all at reasonable cost, keeping control over the ISA and allowing firms to innovate in their implementations. You can have the same code running on a Raspberry PI, an iPhone and a 64 core Graviton2 server.

The Nvidia takeover threatens all this by giving control to a firm who could well 'unlevel' the playing field and even refuse to offer the latest IP to competitors.

RISC-V may provide a way out for firms unhappy with Nvidia but it could be a bumpy path. And its certainly not the case that Nvidia are paying $40bn to consolidate Mali with their own graphics IP.

Arm's Mali GPUs don't seem very important in the grand scheme of things. They're the choice for SoC makers who don't have anything else. Qualcomm has their own Adreno, Apple has their own thing, NXP buys GPUs from Vivante, Samsung is now going to include AMD Radeons in phones..

Sure but you have to assume that at some point in the future that Nvidia is going to start making those non-Nvidia GPUs very difficult/expensive to use in future ARM designs. They could do this legally, technically through manipulating the reference designs to tightly integrate Nvidia GPUs, cutting support for third party GPU integrating SoCs or any of the above.

> You buy, you control, that's how the world works

NO! That is how the world does NOT work! We seen it trillion times, I am disappointed the least seeing this negligent 'argument' for blocking dominance! Shame!

How does the world work then?

To play devil’s advocate a bit, are nVidia's incentives necessarily so different? Their goal will be to make as much money as possible, and it's clear that licensing has been a winning strategy for ARM.

Samsung comes to mind as another company that makes their own TVs, phones, SSDs, ect., but is also perfectly happy to license the underlying screens and chips in those products to other companies. From my vantage point, the setup seems to be working well?

It could be Nvidia just wants ARM's profits and leave them alone, but I don't understand why Nvidia would spend 40 billion dollars on that. They spend 40 billion on the control of a company, why would they do that if they just would leave them be? Surely they want to exercise that control in some way for their own goals. Especially a company like Nvidia which (in my linked comment) has a proven track record of not understanding how to collaborate with others.

EDIT: Let's be clear that ARM's incentive last week was to create and empower as many competitors for Nvidia as possible. They were good at that and was the root of the success of the ARM ecosystem. That incentive is completely gone now.

I'm guessing Samsung has a track record where I'd feel a little more confidence in the situation if they'd taken over ARM here, but in general ARM's sale to Softbank and thereby its exposure to lesser competitive interests has been terrible. They could have remained a private company.

> They spend 40 billion on the control of a company, why would they do that if they just would leave them be?

Well, the optimistic reason would be talent-share. nVidia has a lot of chip designers, and ARM has a lot of chip designers, and having all of them under one organization where they can share discoveries, research and ideas could benefit all of nVidia's products.

All I can say to that is that I don't share your optimism. Explaining this as an acquihire sounds nice, but that seems a thin explanation of this purchase given the key role ARM has for many of Nvidia's competitors and the ludicrous amount of money Nvidia put on the table here. We'll see what the future holds - I certainly hope the open ecosystem can survive.

I don't see it as much as Nvidia trying to strangle the competition that licenses ARM as much as I see it Nvidia having full control over the development of the architecture. This would enable them to own full solutions in their AI part of the business and tailor the architecture to their very specific needs.

Buying ARM not only allows them to control the direction of development, it also protects them should anyone else have bought it with hostile intent.

Personally I see this as more of an attack on Intel.

I agree actually that Nvidia's strategic motivation here is their long-term position w.r.t. Intel and AMD, maybe even Apple/Huawei/Samsung. And that's actually a good reason for this investment!

I likewise don't think destroying the ARM ecosystem is Nvidia's primary objective here - far from it. It might not even be a secondary objective. But I do think the ARM ecosystem will be slowly torn apart either as an innocent bystander or as a less prominent secondary objective (given real-world complexities, probably some combination of both). When Nvidia buys ARM, and they explicitly buy them to improve their competitive position, there's only one direction where I see the incentives going. Those will be against the open ARM ecosystem, which is a breeding ground for big and small competition against Nvidia.

Even if Nvidia's primary motives are relatively benign, I think they'll inevitably create a sitation where the ARM ecosystem can't continue existing in its current form. That's where the real tragedy will be.

Or to make sure they can't be left in the dirt by somebody else. If Apple, for example, would have bought ARM, I could imagine them quite hostile to NVIDIA.

How do we know that Samsung hasn't stifled some potential competitors by refusing to sell them screens or by selling them an inferior product?

Samsung makes (excellent) screens for iPhones, which are huge competitors to Samsung's own flagship phones, but Samsung still seems happy to take the profits from the screen sales. If there are smaller potential competitors that Samsung won't work with it's most likely because the scale is too small to be in their economic interest, not because they're rejecting profits in order to stifle potential competitors.

iPhones sell massively well though, to the point where it would be a big loss if Apple went to another company for their screens. You just can't screw with a company the size of Apple without consequences. It's not like they'd go "oh no, no more iPhone now I guess :'(" if Samsung decided not to sell them screens anymore.

The problem is more with smaller companies that could be destroyed before they even get a chance to compete. Those can be bullied pretty easily by a company the size of Samsung.

I don’t really see how it works both ways. It’s hard to imagine a bigger scarier competitor to Samsung than the Apple iPhone, yet we agree Samsung is happy selling screens to Apple.

I recall reading a breakdown at one point a few years ago that indicated that between screen, fabs (before Apple went for TSMC) and memory, Samsung made more money from each iphone sold than they did for each galaxy S phone of the time. Seems like a winning deal to me.

Because there are a lot more Androids and other devices that need screens. If they didn't make screens for Apple, a competitor would.

Apple is a much bigger company than Samsung, they can't realistically turn down a contract that big when LG is lying in wait to take all that money.

Not really. Revenues and Profits of Samsung group and Apple are roughly comparable and in many ways Samsung's revenue streams are more diversified and sustainable.. stock valuation notwithstanding.

"stock valuation notwithstanding" Perhaps you were thinking of Samsung Electronics, not Samsung Group.

There isn't really much outside Samsung Electronics in terms of revenue/profit.

Samsung SDS made $635 million in profit in 2019 which I think was higher than ARM? As far as I'm aware the 'Samsung Group' doesn't actually have all the companies under that so it's difficult to see what the overall revenue/profit is of the entire 'group'. It has quite a few other companies, like heavy industries, insurance, asset management, etc and I think they all have thousands of employees and are very large companies in their industries so I'd be surprised that when combined the other companies weren't significant. Did you have any data on this?

That is the key. There are and need to have alternatives. Real one.

Not the one to rule them all is the key to every innovation.

Samsung is a massive company ... the division that handles screens is managed independently from the one that makes smartphones.

It must be probably weird for Apple technical staff to communicate so closely with one division of Samsung while fighting for market share with another division of the same company.

> Samsung makes (excellent) screens for iPhones, which are huge competitors to Samsung's own flagship phones, but Samsung still seems happy to take the profits from the screen sales.

What markup does Apple pay for Samsung OLED displays compared to Samsung’s other OLED customers? I think this is highly relevant if you want to use it as an example. Because if the markup for Apple is 5x that of other buyers of Samsung OLED displays then you certainly can’t say Samsung is “happy” to sell them to Apple.

Same for nVidia-owned-ARM: if they’re happy to sell ARM licenses at 5x the previous price, then that will surely increase sales for nVidia’s own chips. I guess my overall point is: a sufficiently high asking price is equivalent to a refusal to sell.

demanding information that you know nobody will be able to produce is an unethical debating tactic.

obviously nobody but Samsung and their customers will know that information, and anyone who could reveal it is under NDA.

Apparently the prices are good enough that Apple doesn't go elsewhere.

Resources are limited. If a Samsung phone and a Motorola phone need the same screen and there's not enough to go around, what happens?

A bidding war of course.

On the surface, it's capitalism at work. In reality, Samsung winds up in a no-lose situation. If Motorola wins, Samsung gets bigger margins due to the battle. If Samsung wins, they play "pass around the money" with their accountants, but their only actual costs are those of production.

I'd note that chaebol wouldn't exist in a free market. They rely on corruption of the Korean government.

Screen manufacture is a highly competitive market. ARM licensing isn't.

The main difference I'd say is that ARM holds more of a potentially captive industry that is totally intertwined with its IP. Most of the products that Samsung sell to other industries are more or less fungible with products that other third parties sell but the ARM design rights are going to be incredibly difficult to replace. Entire ecosystems of electronics and software are built on it.

There's a whole lot of inertia for Nvidia to take advantage of here while the rest of the industry figures out where it's going.

The reason that ARM is only worth 30-40 billion while powering nearly all smartphones and much of the embedded space is because their business model is not that profitable. If Nvidia is looking for profits, ARM is a bad investment. If they are looking for synergies to boost nVidia profits, it will be done at the expense of other licensees. That's exactly what people fear.

Didn't Samsung stopping selling flash chips to ouside parties when it suited them?

I tend to agree, but there may be another angle to this which could prove beneficial to consumers. Right now, the only ARM chips which are actually competitive with desktop chips are from Apple, and are obviously very proprietary. If this acquisition enables Nvidia to begin producing ARM chips at the same level as Apple (somehow, who's to say how, that's on them) then that would help disrupt the AMD/Intel duopoly on Windows. Its been a decade; Qualcomm has had the time to try and compete here, and has failed miserably.

I doubt Nvidia would substantially disrupt or cancel licensing to the many third-rate chip designers you listed. But, if they can leverage this acquisition to build Windows/Linux CPUs that can actually compete with AMD and Intel, that would be a win for consumers. And Nvidia has shown interest in this in the past.

Yes, its a massive disruption to the status quo. But it may be a good one for consumers.

But Nvidia has an Arm architecture license already - the same as Apple - so can build Arm chips to whatever design it wants (and it does in Tegra).

This is nothing to do with extending Nvidia's ability to use Arm IP in its own products.

Nvidia is a total powerhouse when it comes to chip design. Most people here are looking at this from the angle of "how does ARM benefit Nvidia", but I think its more valuable to consider "how does Nvidia benefit ARM". In 2020, given what we know about Ampere, I really don't think there's another company out there with better expertise in microprocessor design (but, to be fair, lets say top 3 next to Apple and AMD). Now, they have more of the stack in-house, which may help produce better chips.

Yes, ARM mostly just does licensing, but it may turn out that this acquisition gives Nvidia positive influence over future ISA and fundamental design changes which emerge from their own experience building microprocessors.

Maybe that just benefits Nvidia, or maybe all of their licenses; I don't know. But, I think the high price of this acquisition should signal that Nvidia wants ARM for more than just collecting royalties (or, jesus, the people here who think they're going to cancel the licenses or something, that's a wild prediction).

The other important point is Mali, which has a very obvious and natural synergy with Nvidia's wheelhouse. Another example of Nvidia making ARM better; Nvidia is the leader in graphics, this is no argument, so their ability to positively influence Mali (whether by actually improving it, or replacing it with something GeForce) may be beneficial to the OEMs who use it.

> Nvidia is a total powerhouse when it comes to chip design. Most people here are looking at this from the angle of "how does ARM benefit Nvidia", but I think its more valuable to consider "how does Nvidia benefit ARM". In 2020, given what we know about Ampere, I really don't think there's another company out there with better expertise in microprocessor design (but, to be fair, lets say top 3 next to Apple and AMD). Now, they have more of the stack in-house, which may help produce better chips.

In my view you have this completely backwards. I think the opposite is true and that Nvidia is not a powerhouse CPU designer at all. They make extremely impressive GPUs certainly, but that does not automatically translate to great capabilities in CPUs. In terms of CPUs they have so far either used standard ARM designs and have attempted their own Project Denver custom architecture which are not bad but have not impressed CPU wise either. In this area Nvidia would need ARM - primarily for themselves.

> The other important point is Mali, which has a very obvious and natural synergy with Nvidia's wheelhouse. Another example of Nvidia making ARM better; Nvidia is the leader in graphics, this is no argument, so their ability to positively influence Mali (whether by actually improving it, or replacing it with something GeForce) may be beneficial to the OEMs who use it.

I know you're only entertaining the thought, but the image of Nvidia shipping HDL designs of Geforce IP to Samsung or Mediatek in the short term future seems completely alien to me. Things would need to change drastically at Nvidia for them to ever do this.

Certainly Nvidia has the capabilities to sell way better graphics to the ARM ecosystem, and very likely only one line of GPUs can survive, but it just seems extremely unlike Nvidia to ever license Geforce IP to their competitors.

Nvidia actually did try to license out its GPU IP a few years back: https://www.anandtech.com/show/7083/nvidia-to-license-kepler...

I don't believe they ever closed a deal, but clearly Nvidia had some interest in becoming an IP vendor. Perhaps the terms were too onerous or the price too high.

Ah that's very interesting. I wonder what kind of circumstance would get in the way deals for a GPU line that (starting with Maxwell) is technically the best GPU architecture money can buy. Perhaps Nvidia were trying to win game console SoC deals?

> "In 2020, given what we know about Ampere, I really don't think there's another company out there with better expertise in microprocessor design..."

Since Ampere and GPUs in general are structured nothing like a microprocessor, I doubt you'll find anyone who agrees with that.

AMDs answer to Ampere won't be shabby based on info about next generation consoles. They're also widening the gap on CPUs with Zen to where ARM won't have an easy time making inroads on server/workstation.

On the Intel side, the process obstacles have been tragic, but they have plenty of hot products and plenty of x86 market share to lose, or in other words, plenty of time to recover CPU performance dominance.

As Linus said ARM will only be widely adopted if there is availability of affordable hardware that developers can actually buy.

Apple has pulled this off about 4 times because of their small market share and willingness to deprecate old hardware, software and the close control of the hardware they release.|

In the PC world - x86 will remain with us for a LONG time to come.

Which is why Arm in Macs is a crucial moment for the whole of the Arm ecosystem.

I hope so. And when AMD's graphics cards and Intel's processors become good again, they're welcome to reclaim a top spot. But, until then, they are woefully behind.

perhaps they can be part of an 'early insider' program to get access to the next gen architecture improvements. and use that to steer towards integrating their own gpus for a premium instead of the dinky little Malis.

The failed "Windows on Snapdragon" experiment is not because of the fault of Qualcomm but Microsoft's. Qualcomm consistently released chips for PCs since Snapdragon 835 and the chips are pretty competitive in raw power compared to Intel. But even some of Microsoft's own software is not compiled natively for ARM leading to bad performance. No 64-Bit emulation means a lot of programs users download does not work at all. .Net Framework which is probably the most popular .Net framework for Windows programs is not compiled for ARM either so people who want to compile their apps need to first transition to .Net Core, and this wasn't even an option a year ago (because of lack of missing parts in .Net Core). So Microsoft is to blame for the handling of the Windows on Snapdragon experiment.

> There is no way Nvidia will spend 40 billion on this without them deliberately or inadvertently destroy ARM's open CPU and GPU ecosystem

But why would a company spend that much money to buy a company and destroy it afterwards?

Nvidia will certainly try to get as much money out of ARM's R&D capabilities, existing IP, and future roadmap as they can. They will get their money's worth - at worst they will fail trying. In that sense, they won't destroy "ARM the company" or "ARM the IP". But Nvidia will have no interest in maintaining ARM's business model whereby ARM fosters a community of Nvidia competitors - they have an interest to the opposite. Therefore they very likely will destroy "ARM the ecosystem".

It’s not going to destroy the business it’s going to destroy the current business model. The point is that the only way this deal can make sense for Nvidia, is to use ARM’s IP as a competitive advantage over other competitors. Until now, ARM’s value proposition has been IP neutrality for the various user companies.

Oracle and Sun at $8B.

They figure they can make more than $40B by driving ARM to the ground?

Personally I don't think that's true in this particular case, but the strategy isn't exactly unheard of.

I think it's wonderful news that Arm is joining the ranks of giant American tech oligopolies. This is a win for freedom and increases prosperity for all.


Both Apple and windows has arm implementation. In fact with Apple it is arm not risc/v we are looking at. Can Nvidia bring competition or instead destroy arm ... wonder if he wants to destroy what a cpu ip or competition it pay 40B to destroy. What does it want from the deal ? And what will it get from the deal ? Any past deal we can gauge ? Oracle buy sun is the worst scenario.

I agree with the general sentiment here, but ARM is not exactly Snow White. It's an open secret that ARM was (and still is) selling the CPU design at a discount if you integrated their Mali (GPU). This isn't relevant to Nvidia today, but it was when they were in the mobile GPU space. Also this caused obvious problems for IMGtec and other smaller GPU players like Vivante.

" It's an open secret that ARM was (and still is) selling the CPU design at a discount if you integrated their Mali (GPU)."

Why is that bad? Not only it's common business practice (the more you buy from us, the cheaper we sell), it also makes sense from the support perspective. Support the integration between their cores and a different GPU would be more work for them than integration of their cores with their own GPUs.

That's why companies expand to adjacent markets: efficiency.

A completely different thing would be to say: "if you want our latest AXX core, you have to buy our latest Mali GPU". That's bundling, and that's illegal.

A question is how big those discounts are.

Microsoft have away a free browser with their operating system - leaving little room for other browser vendors to serve that market.

Each ARM design deal including a GPU for cheap leaves little room for other GPU vendors.

Bundling isn't necessarily anti-competitive provided ARM isn't taking a loss selling their chip. I'll admit that things aren't actually free-market here because copyright and patent monopolies apply.

There are three possibilities here: ARM's design is approximately the same as the competitory, ARM's design is inferior to the competitor, and ARM's design is superior to the competitor.

If faced with two equivalent products, staying with the same supplier for both is best (especially in this case where the IP isn't supply-limited). The discount means a reduction in costs to make the device. Instead of ARM making a larger profit, their customers keep more of their money. In turn, the super-competitive smartphone market means those savings will directly go to customers.

In cases where ARM's design is superior, why would they bundle? If they did, getting a superior product at an even lower price once again just means less money going to the big corporation and more money that stays in the consumer's pocket.

The final case is where ARM has an inferior design. I want to sell the most performance/features for the price so I can sell more phones. I have 2 choices: slight discount on the CPU but bundled with an inferior GPU or full price for the CPU and full price for a superior GPU. The first option lowers phone price. The second option offers better features and performance. For the high-end market, I'm definitely not going with the discount because peak performance reigns supreme. In the lesser markets, its a calculation of price for total performance and the risk that consumers might prefer an extra few FPS for the cost of another few dollars.

Finally, there are a couple small players like Vivante or Imagination Technologies, but the remaining competitors in the space (Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung, etc) aren't going to be driven under by bundle deals, so bundling seems to be pretty much all upside for consumers who stand to save money as a result.

I'm sure that ARM is not a saint here in the sense that they would also have an incentive to milk their licensees as much as possible. Now they will keep having that incentive, but also the terrible incentive to actively outcompete their licensees which is much worse.

>I agree with the general sentiment here, but ARM is not exactly Snow White. It's an open secret that ARM was (and still is) selling the CPU design at a discount if you integrated their Mali (GPU).

It is actually the other way around. ARM is more like giving the Mali GPU for free ( or at a very low cost ) if you use their CPU.

>Also this caused obvious problems for IMGtec

Yes, part of the reason why PowerVR couldn't get more traction and Apple were unhappy with their GPU pricing.

Tie-in sale is anti competition and not allow ? May be the per sec is started to go but still ...

Bundling is not necessarily problematic: it happens at your local supermarket all the time!

What would be an issue would be if Arm used their market power in CPUs to try to control the GPU market - e.g. you can't have the latest CPU unless you buy a Mali GPU with it.

Exactly, there is no way ARM is worth 40 B to Invidia, unless they are going to use it to arm-twist their competition.

Just look at ARMs annual net, multiply by 10, multiply that by 2 assuming starry-eyed optimism about you being better at generating value from ARM IP, you’re still far from 40 billion.

>Will Nvidia allow selling ARM licenses to competitors of Nvidia's business?

Like AMD? Sure. None of the ARM IP compete with Nvidia much. Not to mention by "Not" Selling to AMD it create more problem for its $40B asset than anyone could imagine.

>Will Nvidia reserve ARM's best IP as a selling point for its own chips? Will Nvidia allow Mali to continue existing?

Sure. Mali dont compete with Nvidia at all. Unless Nvidia will put up their CUDA Core for IP licensing with similar price and terms to Mali. Could they kill it or raise the price of Mali? Sure. But there is always PowerVR. Not to mention AMD is also licensing out Radeon IP to Mobile. Mostly because AMD dont / cant compete in that segment.

>Unless Nvidia leaves ARM alone (and why would they spend $40B on that??)

It has more to do with Softbank being an Investor. They were already heavily invested in Nvidia. And they need money, they want out. And seriously no one sane would buy ARM for $40B ( It is actually $35B, with $5B as performance bonus, the number $40 was likely used only for headline. ) As a matter of fact I would not be surprised if Softbank promise to buy it back someday. This also paint a picture of how desperate Son / Softbank needs those Cash. So something is very wrong. ( Cough WeWork Cough )

But I do understand your point. Conflict of Interest. Similar to Apple wouldn't want to build their Chip in Samsung Foundry.

While I would have liked ARM to remain independent. I am not as pessimistic as some have commented. And normally I am the one who had people pointing at my pessimism.

On the optimistic side of things. There are quite a lot of cost could be shared with the tools used for TSMC and Samsung Foundry implementation. ( Nvidia is now in bed with Samsung Foundry ) For ARM that means higher margin, for its customers that mean access to Samsung Foundry Capacity where previously they are stuck with TSMC. Nvidia also gets to leverage ARM's expertise in licensing, so their Nvidia GPU could theoretically enter new market. The real IP with Nvidia isn't so much about the GPU design, but its Drivers and CUDA. So may be Nvidia could work towards being an Apple like "Software" company that works with specific Hardware. ( Pure Speculation only )

There are lots of talk about Nvidia and ARM. While I dont think the marriage make perfect sense, It is not all bad. There are more interesting point no one is talking about. Marvell, AMD, Xillix and may be Broadcom. The industry is consolidating rapidly because designing leading edge chip, even with the cheap IP licensing is now becoming very expensive. And the four mentioned above have less leverage than their competitors.

Interest Times.


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