SoftBank is rumored to be exploring a sale of ARM (the British chip designer that manages almost all major mobile processors from companies like Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung and Huawei) and now it might have found a buyer. According to Nvidia, it was in “advanced talks” to buy ARM in a deal worth more than $ 32 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Nvidia is said to be the only company involved in specific discussions with SoftBank for the purchase at the moment, and an agreement could be reached “in the coming weeks”, although nothing is finished yet. If the deal is reached, it would be one of the biggest deals in the computer chip business and it would probably have to do intense regulatory scrutiny.
SoftBank bought ARM in 2016 for $ 31 billion, and ARM has only grown in value since then, as its designs have become increasingly integral to Android and iOS devices. Microsoft already makes an ARM-based version and a Windows version designed for ARM; Apple also recently announced that it would switch its Mac computers to ARM-based chipsets in the latest version of the company. As SoftBank appears to be paying off its growing debt pillars to appease restless investors, an ARM sale at its peak could help bolster the finances of the Japanese tech conglomerate.
Nvidia would be an interesting owner for ARM, while the company is a leader in GPUs (which also designs ARM), it has little to do with CPU design or mobile hardware outside of its Tegra line of mobile chipsets (more known for the Nintendo Switch and the Nvidia Shield line of set-top boxes), which are actually based on ARM designs.
Having ARM would give Nvidia much more power over the wider computing world and would likely trigger strong scrutiny from regulators, as Nvidia is an ARM customer, competing with other companies that also rely on ARM designs.