The $40bn sale of ARM to Nvidia has raised many opinions, with some of the largest ARM partners notably quiet.
“This is a seismic announcement and potentially represents a moment of the chickens coming home to roost for many manufacturers,” said Mark Lippett, CEO at processor designer XMOS in Bristol, UK. “Contrary to established business wisdom that businesses should retain control of their strategic assets, the chip industry has been content to divest itself of processing technology and rely on licensing ARM technology.”
“Of course, kudos to ARM for making this proposition as attractive as they have. However, that same IP now being in the hands of a competitor, rather than a strictly neutral party, changes the calculation entirely,” he said. “Although Nvidia has promised to retain an “open-licensing model and customer neutrality”, business-as-usual seems an unlikely strategy for the largest ARM licensees. Indeed, I believe it is a massive wake-up call for the whole sector.”
ARM’s large semiconductor customers such as Qualcomm, Samsung and NXP have been notable by their lack of comments, but ARM is quick to point out that partners had been involved in the discussions.
“I’ve had dialogue with many of our partners and it’s really important that ARM can maintain its business model to continue to serve the licensees that have been so loyal to us over the years and those were part of the conversations between us, Nvidia and Softbank,” said Simon Seagars, CEO of ARM.
“There are two areas that I think are concerning,” said Graham Curren, CEO at Europe’s largest independent chip design consultancy Sondrel, which is an ARM partner. “Firstly I share the views of Hermann Hauser in that some companies are going to struggle with the idea that they are buying from their competition and will look elsewhere so the current business model is likely to change.”