back to article Nvidia says regulators will be 'very supportive' of $40bn Arm buy despite concerns about chip designer's independence

Nvidia expects its $40bn buy of chip designer Arm to take over a year to close and to involve plenty of discussions with regulators – ones that will be interested in how the "Switzerland" of semiconductors can remain independent and still appeal to its new owner's rivals. As previously reported, a deal was agreed this morning …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    and Arm itself will only be allowed to sell to whoever the US says it can

    This was my first thought: are Chinese mobile manufacturers going to be forbidden ARMs to put in their shiny new phones?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: and Arm itself will only be allowed to sell to whoever the US says it can

      Forbidden licenses? The Chinese ARM will probably declare independence and that'll be the end of ARM.

    2. John Sturdy
      Boffin

      Re: and Arm itself will only be allowed to sell to whoever the US says it can

      Or, ARM goes through its git logs, and removes and replaces (clean-room rewrites, I guess) any changes which were made in the US?

  2. All names Taken
    Holmes

    Deepen the divide?

    Someone on BBC world service said something like "it is easier to create a problem than to solve one".

    A few billions to have mega-control of a truly remarkable organization (ARM) is a price worth paying especially for the control it brings. Maybe they know something lesser mortals have no idea about?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @lesser mortals

      Very Zen, reminds me of the "HP Compaq" merger, all 'synergies' that secretly Carly knows about but not people who use the products....

      Yeh NVIDIA knows its share price is a work of fiction*, Softbank knows it overpaid for ARM so it cannot float the company or sell it to anyone other than a more over-inflated stock.

      elReg estimated the return at 8% for Softbank, that is a work of fiction. The $1.5 billion to staff does not go to Softbank and should not have been counted, the dillution from NVIDIA issuing new stock was also not accounted for. The exit price for Softbank from NVIDIA would be very tricky to achieve without driving the stock down. Yet the price assumed is the pre-diluted price before a Softbank exit.

      But for Softbanks management, they can sell it as a '$40 billion sale" at "profit". For NVIDIA's management, they can say "well Softbank holds our shares at this multiple, so we *must* be worth it". For ARM employees they get free money, well not free since shareholders of NVIDIA are ultimately picking up the bill.

      I am very curious about this $5 billion performance payment. Since NVIDIA would then own it, and the performance of ARM would ultimately be NVIDIA's fault. So I eye it suspiciously, why would Softbank agree to that term?

      I'm also concerned about the employee payment, echos of Google's self driving car effort. Pay too much and its take the money and retire.

      * Fed Bubble (see, I'm being good and not pointing out the cause of this giant fake money bubble that is 3 times the size of the entire SE Asian economy, never mentioned the lying moron once or the consequence of handing free money to his unproductive buddies)

    2. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: Deepen the divide?

      An Independent ARM was the best outcome and SoftBank should never have been allowed to buy it in the first place.

      A Cooperative consortium owning ARM seems like a best compromise with Apple, Samsung, NVidia, Qualcomm, Marvell all owning say 10-20% and the rest left for the small investor. No-one allowed to own more than 20%. Ironically very like the original structure ARM started with that Apple has to flog their share to stave off bankruptcy during the Pepsi days.

      ARM has done well and nice to see Herman Hauser again.

      From little Acorn’s ..... :-)

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Deepen the divide?

        Difficult to build a mixed share structure like that though, since Softbank overpaid so much for ARM and needed to sell at a profit. Even if only a paper one.

        They should have sold their stakes in Uber and WeWork and kept ARM - which at least makes money. Stop laughing at the back there! Of course they could have found a buyer. These are valuable stakes in companies with a bright future!

  3. Rich 2 Silver badge

    What a fucking disgrace

    The uk government (if you can call them that) have proven themselves, yet again, to be a bunch of utter cockwombles for letting this happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have an upvote

      for using the delighful word cockwombles to desctibe BoJo's government or rather the lack of it.

      Given the shower that makes up the majority of MP's these days (where's a figure like Hesletine and even Maggie with her handbag when you need them eh[1]) I have to wonder if any government made up of them would be any better.

      [1] Even if you hate those figures with a vengance, there are times when you need someone who can lead from the front and not hide away and afraid to be seen in public. At least with Thatcher she gave as good as she got. BoJo is weak by comparison. Even Jeremy C had more charisma than him. Shame that the rest of his party are a the same bunch of useless twats as the Tory MP's.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have an upvote

        While you may be right about previous Tory leaders being more capable than Bojo (but then again, who isn't?), it's worth pointing out that it is thanks to them that our railways are run for profit by foreign entities and London buses have a picture of the Seine on their side.

      2. NeilPost Bronze badge

        Re: Have an upvote

        Being fair. BoJo never allowed the sale to Softbank in the first-place. That was Theresa May’s Government.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Have an upvote

          "Being fair. BoJo never allowed the sale to Softbank in the first-place. That was Theresa May’s Government."

          don't let inconveniences like facts get in the way of a good bashing.

          1. Rich 2 Silver badge

            Re: Have an upvote

            I don’t think that technicality matters - the government of the day has been a shower for years.

        2. Greybearded old scrote

          Re: Have an upvote

          Oh, where's the fun in being fair?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have an upvote

        "Even Jeremy C had more charisma than him"

        yes, thats why Jeremy C lost the last election and provided BoJo an increased majority.

        All other parties better go for candidates with less charisma next time.

        1. Greybearded old scrote
          Facepalm

          Re: Have an upvote

          I amazed me how quickly we went from "Oh, Jeremy Corbin" at Glastonbury to the guy being unelectable.

          While I've never been a Labour supporter I did approve of them choosing him as leader. You just can't fly on two right wings.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Have an upvote

            Greybearded old scrote,

            The people singing Oh Jeremy Corbyn were mostly middle class young people at Glastonbury. Who are even less representative of the average voter than the Labour Party membership (or any other party's come to that) who voted for him as leader. Against the, as it turned out correct, advice of Labour's MPs.

            He was always unelectable. He consistently polled worse than any opposition leader in the history of modern polling - which is usually a less volatile measure than the answers to the "who would you vote for if there was an election tomorrow" questions.

            He was very popular with a small but noisy subset of the electorate. Although a large chunk of them were massively pro-EU and he's been a lifelong opponent of EU membership - although either softened that in recent years, or at least not talked about it anymore. So a lot of them subsequently went off him because he wasn't the opponent of Brexit they wanted.

            1. Greybearded old scrote

              Re: Have an upvote

              Fair enough, but let's not forget that those MPs were pretty much all Noo Labour. That is, Not Really Labour.

              We really needed more of a choice than dark blue, pale blue or a "centre" that was the remainer wing of the dark blue.

              It's a constant source of sorrow to me that just as I was allowed a vote the rest of the country took a huge step to the right. (No time warp included.)

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: Have an upvote

                Actually I don't think that's fair. It's much more of a caricature from the more noisy Corbyn supporters. Most of the Blairites had already left. There were still a good number of Brownites left - but I think the majority of the Parliamentary party are more from the soft left group. A lot who supported Miliband's pivot away from Blair and move to the left on policy.

                The noisy buggers telling their own MPs to fuck off and join the Tory Party didn't even understand their own party. Though of course quite a few of them were actually from more fringe left wing organisations who only joined Labour to vote for Corbyn, or once he'd won - in the bizarre assumption that the electorate had suddenly stopped being conservative (with a small c) and were about to welcome socialism. Social democracy's pretty popular - full-on socialism not so much.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have an upvote

        No downvote, but whoever invented the Wombles hates that word. They pointed out that Wombles were a treasured part of many childhoods (mine included), and really shouldn't be a term of abuse. Perhaps you could consider shitweasel or arsebadger instead.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Have an upvote

          Oi! Leave off the badgers! Partly because you'll make Brian May angry... Some of us have fond memories of Wind in the Willows. However shitweazle or stoatal arsehole are well in keeping with the themes of that book - so feel free to use those.

          The problem for the wombles is that they were very nice, but not terribly efficient. Which I think is why womble is such an easy thing to add to an insult - because of the suggestion of bumbling incompetence. Plus it's an intrinsically funny sounding word.

          I'm afraid it was my second thought when Navalny got poisoned. First being he was on a flight that took off in Tomsk and was forced to land in Omsk - hence becoming a rhyming journey. Then I thought of Tomsk, the womble. And only finally did I think about the poor bugger who'd been poisoned, again, almost certainly by the Russian government.

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Have an upvote for desperate fake news

            And only finally did I think about the poor bugger who'd been poisoned, again, almost certainly by the Russian government. ..... I ain't Spartacus

            Almost certainly, I ain't Spartacus, is nothing conclusive and surely just speculative ..... and therefore, in reality, one doesn't have a clue to support and prove the notion?

            Is the following more fake news trying to bury true facts ...... https://www.rt.com/russia/500685-berlin-struggles-to-answer-rts/ .... or uncover them?

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Have an upvote for desperate fake news

              amanfrommars1,

              I wouldn't normally take you seriously and answer, but seeing as you're floating some Russian state propganda out there pretending it's news - I'm going to.

              I'm happy with my "almost certainly". Not only am I happy to assume that the Russian government did it, but I'm also happy to state that they want me to think they did it. And they want to be all smug and plesased with themselves that I they know that I know that they know that I know...

              The bullshit from RT is only put out there to give their supporters, and the idiots who seem to persist in deciding that morality requires being anti-Western because reaons, some plausible bollocks to spout. So they don't have to accept the vaccuousness of their political positions.

              If the GRU hadn't poisoned Skripal then once it was known that he'd been poisoned with high grade Russian chemical weapons - the Russian government would have launched an investigation into why those weapons had gone missing. Whereas what they actually did was spout increasing amounts of bollocks and have their UK ambassador trolling on social media. For which I'd personally have expelled him from the country, but I suppose having kicked out so many other diplomats that would have looked a bit vindictive. There would have been some cooperation with the enquiry, even if done quietly so as not to admit embarrassment - instead the GRU got caught red handed trying to hack into the independent OPCW lab that were verifying the test results from the UK.

              And then they put up their two "businessmen" on telly. The ones that just happened to have sequential passport numbers, and despite hailing from Siberia - were unable to walk 10 minutes through British slush!

              And now we see the same program here. Official denials, combined with trolling and a smirking, pathetic, triumphant, poking at the story so that everybody knows that not only they did it, but they're proud of themselves.

              The Russian government's recent history and current actions tell me that not only they did it, but they're not unhappy for people to think that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a fucking disgrace

      Just be glad there's no prospect of nationalizing ARM and having it run directly by them --- although ARM has some cockwombles of its own among its management.

  4. devTrail

    How can ideas be controlled?

    Yes, I can bet the licensing will go on, playing dirty in a open manner would surely backfire, but what about the subtle changes? NVidia could easily transfer the most advanced solutions proposed by ARM engineers to its own research centre while the ARM development would go on in a conservative manner. Internal ideas and designs cannot be controlled by external regulators. In few years NVidia could get a clear advantage in a market worth billions of processors (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arm_Holdings#Sales_and_market_share), if they are allowed to get control over ARM there's no chance that on the long term they'll play fairly.

    1. mevets

      Re: How can ideas be controlled?

      Have you been paying any attention to how the US has been using trade embargo as an economic weapon in the last 4 years? It isn't just Jina, they are simply used as the whipping boy example for the world to understand what happens if you don't do precisely what the US wants you to do.

      Worse, if you think this derangement is just part of nightmare on trump street; you need to take a step back. A non-asshole government could be elected, but the peace it inspires could be undone in 4 years by asshole-gov-pt 2 ( actually I think it is part 37 by now ). This flightiness is an underlying attribute of the USA (among others) and is a huge red flag to stable trade agreements.

      The USA can't be trusted; and their form of communism permits them to use private intellectual property within their country as a weapon against the world. Either ARM has to be kept from them, or everybody needs to move to RISC-V immediately. I know where I am buying stock.

      ps: any chance the UK had of wrestling control back was likely ceded by BrExit. I hope you enjoy the fish and coal.

    2. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: How can ideas be controlled?

      If this was ever likely you be a threat.... Apple would just outbid them with it’s massive wad. Esp. In light of the move off Intel for Mac.

      It’s has had squabbles with various suppliers over the years - Samsung, Sharp, Motorola, IBM, Qualcomm, Intel, Imagination... One with NVidia will just be another.

      As said above to keep things equitable an industry consortium owning them (ARM) would be the best outcome for all.

      Similar to Daimler Benz, BMW and VW Group - as a collective - owning between them the ex Nokia SatNav and Mapping tech last with a public outcome as Here Maps on Window’s Phone.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: How can ideas be controlled?

        Here is still a thing on Android and iOS. These apps help keep their maps up to date and obtain with traffic data (I imagine).

  5. mad_dr

    And this will be different to the assurances given by Kraft that all those jobs in Keynsham would be kept when they purchased Cadbury? Mind you, at least in this case, hopefully Nvidia won't be borrowing the money to buy ARM from the British public before it screws them over.

    1. whoseyourdaddy

      Never underestimate the power of shareholders poking at MBAs to tear shit up.

    2. I am the liquor Bronze badge

      Or the assurances from Nanjing that Rover production was safe at Longbridge.

  6. whoseyourdaddy

    I'm going to throw this out here.

    NVidia is working to overcome a market heading towards phablets, that don't need NVidia, or mice, or keyboards.

    Remember when NVidia bought/got stuck with ICERA?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      NVIDIA Shield, Mystique, Switch

      You know they make the Shield don't you (failed Android games console)? And the Nintendo Switch GPU.

      And due this year was the NVIDIA "Mystique" an Android 10, 13.5 inch tablet that I have zero hopes for given NVIDIA's track record.

      If there was value they could add to ARM, they'd have done it already, like Qualcomm.

      1. whoseyourdaddy

        Re: NVIDIA Shield, Mystique, Switch

        I'm old. I don't care about games. But, good points.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Consoles? That's last years stuff

      Nvidia are going hell for leather into Cloud AI computing as well as providing a lot of car companies tech for Self Driving Cars.

      Will BoJo wake up and stop this deal from going through on the interests of 'National Security'?

      Will the sun rise in the West tomorrow?

      That's the same answer I'm afraid.

      BoJo... 'selling England by the Pound' (and at a stonking great loss to the taxpayer)

    3. steviebuk Silver badge

      You can never get rid of mice and keyboards. Some of my poorly written posts are an example of why. I hate typing on touchscreens. I'm on one now making sure it doesn't look a mess as frequently they do.

      1. whoseyourdaddy

        I agree. While Phablets have given me the freedom to argue politics for an entire weekend from my sofa, I have dropped conversations because if it's longer than two sentences, I'll wait and continue the debate when I'm sitting at my Dell. With a full Logitech mouse and keyboard.

        Wait, why did I walk into the bathroom?

  7. steviebuk Silver badge

    They'll do nothing

    Bojo will do fuck all as he's simple a fuckwhit. They never cared when we had Arm and Softbank wanted it. They claimed it was a side of how popular the UK tech industry was, ignoring the fact they were selling it off. I had shares in ARM then and I can't moan as made 2k from it and I really needed the money. But I don't understand Hermann. Surely if he's that bothered he'd have kept enough shares that he'd have final say on what happens, but he never did, I assume he cashed out himself.

    Having said that, he still has a right to moan and say its a bad idea.

    If the orange one somehow gets re-elected and I fear he will (his supporters are blind to his fuck ups and bentness) then we know if this sale goes through, he'll tell Nvidia to stop selling chips to China.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They'll do nothing

      Hey, didn't Boris spunk a hundred grand or so on learning about technology before he became PM? He must have learned something.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They'll do nothing

        There might have been spunk involved, certainly...

  8. Dinanziame Bronze badge
    Megaphone

    I hope regulators kill this

    Nvidia already has a lot of power, and they haven't been shy about using that power. There's not a lot of players in this business, and I see nothing good with concentrating the power in even less hands.

  9. Elledan Bronze badge

    OpenPOWER, not RISC-V

    I'm frankly somewhat amazed at how many commentators keep dragging RISC-V into the limelight as an alternative to ARM. Fact of the matter remains that at this point in time, RISC-V's stable ISA makes it attractive as a freely usable MIPS clone, but most of the planned ISA (vector processing & floating point support among many others) is still in the 'design' or 'prototyping' phases. This makes RISC-V okay for simple tasks where before one'd just stick an 8-bit controller in and call it a day, but not as something that could compete with even Cortex-M MCUs.

    Meanwhile, IBM opened the Power ISA years ago, allowing anyone to freely use it in designs. They even published a few cores using it, like the MicroWatt core. Using Power nets one a mature ISA (developed since it was called POWER, in the 1970s), mature tools, and more stable ISA features than one could shake an IDE at.

    Oh, and there's also OpenRISC, which - too - is more mature and more open than RISC-V to boot. And yes, I'm still grumpy about those nice RISC-V people basically shafting the OpenRISC people.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Don't worry. Everything is under control

    Playing the short the market long game. ........ Slippery Slopes and Greasy Poles ahead. Take Care.

    You know it makes sense ....... and churns the money and tickles the fancy of the magic money tree machine.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Don't worry. Everything is under control

      You forgot those now infamous words

      "Oven Ready Deal"

      I hope those words live to haunt him and then get etched on his toombstone.

      Those simple three words sum him up completely.

  11. Greybearded old scrote

    Few here seem to understand

    There've been quite a few comments here about what the British people are losing, and how Bozo is guilty in this.

    Fact is, Arm was never owned by the nation and the sale is bugger all to do with the government unless it breaches some form of monopoly rules. (Not the game.) We've lost nothing here but pride. Pride and £1 will get you a McDonalds coffee.

    As for the company's former leaders, they should stop whinging. If they wanted to retain any say in its future they shouldn't have bloody well sold it.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Few here seem to understand

      "We've lost nothing here but pride."

      And (potentially) the jobs and the investment. And the skills and training opportunities. And the spin-offs made by ex-staffers. Instead we're looking at a brain drain to America.

      Having big, world-leading companies staffed with locals has shown itself to be an asset. And there are various ways the government could have intervened.

    2. MOV r0,r0

      Re: Few here seem to understand

      Not all former Arm leaders are whinging though. Some founding CEOs and ex-presidents are saying stuff like, Even though everybody says, "Oh dear, poor old Arm's gone to Softbank" the reality is 60% of Arm's shareholding when Softbank bought it was outside the UK. So to my mind who owns the shares, where they are, the reality is money is global, everybody owns everything everywhere. Money travels round the planet and it's everywhere, money doesn't care what nationality you are

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Few here seem to understand

        True but when SoftBank bought them, we were all forced to accept SoftBanks higher than market rate for each share we owned. So wouldn't of been able to keep an hand in unless, I guess, you owned a massive slice.

  12. George Spiggott

    $40bn ?

    That's nearly an ARMful

  13. steamnut

    Shareholder power?

    I held a few shares in Arm since the beginning and, when they were bought by Softbank, I made a nice profit. My holding was too small to have stopped the takeover but the larger institutions could have refused to sell - but they didn't. The larger institutions have responsibilities to other shareholders and pension plans so their profit was the main reason for selling. We cannot easily stop this sort of action. If you are a BT pensioner you will not have problem with the art purchases made over the year or the investment in Milton Keynes.

    And, like the "assurances" given by Kraft to the UK Government when they bought Cadbury, we have no way of forcing Nvidia to be a "good guy" forever....

    If this upsets the market enough then I am sure the Chinese will design and manufacture their own ARM "lookalike" to serve their own markets, and beyond. If that happens then ARM's IP proposition will be very devalued.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Shareholder power?

      If this upsets the market enough then I am sure the Chinese will design and manufacture their own ARM "lookalike" to serve their own markets, and beyond. If that happens then ARM's IP proposition will be very devalued. .... steamnut

      I imagine an Eastwards brain drain because of the rigged Western play ground is something which the marketeers of the New World system fear the most whilst those with novel disruptive IP would be considering to be the best possible move ....... and made so much easier because of these fabulous ways of instant remote working.

      I'm told some folk don't even bother to get out of their pyjamas/nightgowns. How cool is that! :-)

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Just think of the worst possible option

    Well, looks like we've got it, but no surprise. The UK has a sort of 'tradition' of coming up with good stuff then myopically selling it off, or abandoning it to appease supposedly friendly countries.

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