back to article UK digital secretary Oliver Dowden starts national security probe into proposed Arm-Nvidia merger

The proposed sale of Arm to Nvidia looks a bit more tenuous today after UK digital secretary Oliver Dowden issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) indicating he may intervene in the sale on national security grounds. The disptach of the PIIN has kicked-off a further degree of scrutiny, with the Competition and …

  1. Dwarf Silver badge

    Strong ARM'ed into it ?

    Protecting ARM = good.

    But ... does this mean that there is a national security concern about Nvidia, because they are used in a fair number of systems too.

  2. Jc (the real one)

    Did the UK government complain when ARM was bought by softbank, or don't they consider Japan a foreign country?

    Jc

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      ARM (plc) owned by a bunch of banks, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds and ARM (private) owned by a single hedge fund backed by a bunch of banks, pensions, sovereign funds = what's the difference?

      ARM owned by a single chip maker with an almost monopoly in some areas = concern

      1. I_am_not_a_number

        Agreed.

        Softbank has a diverse portfolio of tech companies, which means it's less focussed on a specific sector and therefore (anti-)competitive behaviours.

        To me, the quote below from Softbank was probably the main assurance to competition regulators, shortly after the Arm acquisition:

        "..It is also intended that ARM will remain an independent business within SoftBank, and continue to be headquartered in Cambridge, UK..."

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          It is also intended that ARM will remain an independent business within SoftBank

          Which we all knew was horse shit and why no one was surprised when it was sold on. Little point now in bolting the stable door…

    2. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Softbank

      You may not have noticed but SoftBank do not bake silicon.

  3. steelpillow Silver badge
    Holmes

    Really?

    "We love their licensing model. Their open licensing model is absolutely one of the greatest licensing models out there"

    Funny how Nvidia don't seem to be falling over themselves to adopt the ARM licensing model for their own proprietary technologies...

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Better late than never but better never five years late.

  5. Tron

    Bit late.

    China will most likely block it. Owned by SoftBank (JP/KR) China can leverage access politically. Owned by a US company, Washington can cut off access to Chinese companies.

    Incidentally, there are some bizarre issues involving the CEO of the Chinese unit of ARM.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Bit late.

      But global geo-politcally speaking it's what Britain says that matters

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Bit late.

        Only on the comedy circuit.

    2. idiot taxpayer here again

      Re: Bit late.

      @Tron

      "Owned by a US company, Washington can cut off access to Chinese companies"

      Going by the sanctions that the U.S.A. have imposed on just about every nation on this planet, I think it is a dead cert that they will cut off access to who ever they think will compete with their homegrown industries.

  6. chuckufarley

    I seem to recall...

    ...in the distant past, that once upon a time Nvidia was the underdog. In this epoch long since past 3DFX with the go to graphics card. At least until they published an open source driver that Nvidia used to steal their patented hardware acceleration technology. Then when 3DFX sued Nvidia for patent infringment, Nvidia committed a very hostile takeover of 3DFX in order to make the case disappear.

    I don't blame anyone for not trusting Nvidia. Hell, the really truly paranoid side me thinks that they set up shell companies to buy their products as soon as they launch just to drive up the prices.

  7. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Nvidia is the risk

    The first thing Nvidia did when they acquired Cumulus was to rip out support for Broadcom chipsets from it.

    They have a history of predatory behaviour and it won't stop. They'll make Qualcom look polite

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Nvidia is the risk

      Well... here it says it was the other way around, Broadcom pulled the plug on Cromulus because Nvidia was the new owner and they compete with Broadcom.

  8. nintendoeats Bronze badge

    It doesn't matter what they say...

    because they will say whatever makes the deal most likely to go through. Concentrating that much power in one place is no bueno.

  9. JohnMurray

    Looks to me as if the UK digital secretary should be offered a seat on the Nvidia board......quietly.....

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      It would have to be non-executive. If not time to short Nvidia shares!

  10. Captain Hogwash

    Confused

    How does the UK government get to stick their oar into the proposed sale of a Japanese company to an American one?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Confused

      It's a UK-registered company so it's regulated by UK law, regardless of who the shareholders might be.

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Re: Confused

        Thanks for explaining.

  11. Si 1

    Should never have been sold in the first place

    If ARM is that important to national security then the government should be buying it. Whenever a UK company gets bought all that ever seems to happen is the IP gets retained and all the jobs go elsewhere. I know ARM is currently still based in the UK, but how long is that really going to last, under Nvidia or Softbank?

    1. DarkwavePunk

      Re: Should never have been sold in the first place

      It would be very hard to tear ARM out of Cambridge. I briefly worked at HQ there (~3 years) and I can honestly say that I've never met a bigger bunch of Hyper-Nerds* in the 26 years I've been working in IT. Seriously mind-bending levels of Dorkage.**

      * This is a compliment

      ** This too is a compliment

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I would say its a very slim chance that China is going to allow the sale to a Nvidia anyway even if it does get passed in the UK. With the US gov current strategy of cutting off supplies of US made tech to Huawei and other China based tech companies, there is no way China is going to allow the sale of ARM to a US based company. As would just give the the US gov more ARMament to use in their trade wars.

    1. MrReynolds2U Bronze badge

      The US entity list has already led to ARM stopping export to certain countries (I believe this was due to some of the kit being co-designed in Texas).

      ARM probably felt they had no option but to comply for fear of US bullying tactics against anyone who stepped out of line.

  13. Rich 2 Silver badge

    We should but it back

    “We” being the UK govt. It was bloody stupid to let it be sold in the first place and it’s still bloody stupid.

    I know it’s not quite the same (well not the same at all really) but I fear what happened to Inmos is likely the same as will happen to Arm. It will be asset-stripped, the tech squirrelled away, and this country will, YET AGAIN, lose/give away/let be stolen (delete as you see fit) a prime asset.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We should but it back

      Ideology is stupid, whether it is "the state should own everything" or "the state should own nothing"

      Even if it weren't transparently obvious, history shows that following such ideologies always leads to suboptimal outcomes.

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