The leading graphics processor company NVIDIA has reached an agreement to buy the British microprocessor company Arm Ltd. from the Japanese telecommunications holding SoftBank Group Corp. for $12 billion in cash and $21.5 billion in shares. The agreement provides for an additional $5 billion that SoftBank could receive under certain conditions and $1.5 billion for Arm employees for a total of 40 billion dollars. The operation is expected to close in 18 months.
Founded in 1990 under the name Advanced RISC Machines Ltd, it became ARM in 1998 and then slightly changed its name, over the years the company has specialized in microprocessor design. Today we refer to ARM architecture exactly to indicate processors based on this company’s projects. Those are low power consumption processors and this made them ideal for use in mobile devices.
NVIDIA is known as the leading company in the production of graphics card processors, but for some time there has been much more. In recent years, graphics processors are increasingly used in supercomputers and to run artificial intelligence software.
Simon Segars (photo ©Web Summit), CEO of Arm, spoke about the vision of the future and the new approaches to hardware and software it requires. In his opinion, bringing Arm and NVIDIA together can accelerate the company’s progress and create new solutions to enable a new global ecosystem of innovators.
It’s normal for enthusiastic statements to come in these cases, but NVIDIA indeed gains access to the technologies of a company that designs processors and its software developers. Potentially, it can reinforce its leadership in the field of graphics cards and expand into fields such as artificial intelligence but also some growing ones such as the Internet of Things, robotics and automotive, where Arm technologies are important.
Arm will retain an independent organization with its headquarters in Cambridge. A little over 4 years after the acquisition by SoftBank, Arm becomes the property of a giant in the hardware world. Rumors of this operation were getting more and more persistent, but there were chances that Arm would be bought by another large company in that field, to the point where there were concerns that it would create a dominant position. As part of NVIDIA, Arm will continue to work with its open licensing model that determined its success.