Nvidia has recently reported they will be acquiring ARM Holdings; the company behind ARM microprocessors. Nvidia is the top graphics processor company in the industry, and over the last 10+ years ARM processors (CPUs) have become the standard in all kinds of mobile devices.
ARM Holdings is currently owned by SoftBank; which purchased the company four years ago back in 2016 for $32 Billion. Nvidia has reported to be acquiring ARM Holding from SoftBank for $40 Billion. While SoftBank has reportedly struggled to grow the business, the Nvidia acquisition would mark a big win for SoftBank.
In the old days, Nvidia acquiring ARM may not have made much sense. However, in recent times chip makers have been crossing the lines between producing just graphics chips or just multi-purpose processors. In recent years, Intel has been increasing its development of more advanced graphics processors that are shipped together with their Intel Core CPUs.
Also, the merger of a multi-processor company with a graphics processor company isn’t anything really new to the industry. AMD acquired ATI back in 2006.
The Nvidia acquisition of ARM represents the next step in processor companies working to stay relevant in a modern computing world that is becoming more dependent on the type of processing provided by graphics chips that is being used in machine learning and AI applications.
On the opposite side, the technology offered by ARM with more energy efficient processor designs, as compared to Intel x86 designs, may be further beneficial to be merged with technologies developed by Nvidia.
It’s hard to say exactly what Nvidia is planning after this acquisition, but it may lead to some interesting innovations in the mobile computing space. It’s also likely a smart acquisition on Nvidia’s part since ARM processors are really becoming the standard throughout the industry with companies like Apple and Microsoft moving their devices more towards ARM.
Related: Back in 2017, Chris Pietschmann published the Build5Nines article “Windows Server running on ARM CPUs, Azure is Next!” where he explores some of Microsoft’s work to run ARM processor based servers in Azure cloud datacenters.