A potential sale of Arm to Nvidia, the world’s largest graphics chipmaker, was rumored earlier this month. Nvidia’s market value has increased to almost $260 billion in recent months, surpassing that of Intel. Arm has also become considerably more valuable as it pushes its architecture into smart cars, data centers, and networking technology. The purchase of Arm would help to transform Nvidia into a major player in the semiconductor industry.
Nvidia is reportedly the only company now in advanced negotiations with SoftBank to buy Arm. The two companies intend to reach a deal in the next few weeks. Representatives for Nvidia, SoftBank, and Arm declined to comment to Bloomberg.
Apple has licensed technology from Arm for its A-series chips used in iOS devices since 2006, and Apple is planning to expand the use of Arm-based chips to Macs, with the upcoming launch of Macs equipped with Apple Silicon. Arm also licenses to various other companies such as Qualcomm, Advanced Micro Devices, and Intel. Companies that use Arm technology would likely not be in favor of a deal with Nvidia that does not include explicit assurances that Arm’s instruction set will continue to be available for equal licensing opportunities.
SoftBank reportedly approached Apple to see if it was interested in the purchase of Arm. Despite preliminary discussions, Apple does not plan to pursue a bid because of Arm’s licensing requirements and possible regulatory concerns.
If completed, a deal with Nvidia could be the largest ever in the semiconductor industry, and would likely attract scrutiny from monopoly regulators, particularly as Nvidia is a customer of Arm. SoftBank initially acquired Arm for $32 billion four years ago since it was a neutral party that could not be the subject of a dispute. A sale to Nvidia would probably not have a major impact on Apple’s licensing of Arm technology because of the regulatory requirements that would accompany such a deal.