ARM: UK-based chip designer ‘sold to Nvidia’

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Confirmation that UK-based computer chip designer ARM Holdings is being sold to the American graphics chip specialist Nvidia is expected shortly.

The deal – which could be worth $40bn (£30.8bn) – has been struck by the firm’s current owner, Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank, four years after it acquired the company.

ARM’s technology is at the heart of most smartphones among other devices.

Two of the company’s co-founders had warned against the takeover.

Hermann Hauser and Tudor Brown had suggested the Cambridge-headquartered designer should remain “neutral”, rather than be owned by a company like Nvidia, which produces its own processors.

The concern is that there would be a conflict of interest since ARM’s clients would become dependent on a business with which many also compete for sales.

Moreover, the two co-founders also claimed that once ARM was owned by an American firm, Washington could try to block Chinese companies from using its knowhow as part of a wider trade clash between the countries.

Others, including the UK’s Labour Party, had also urged the government to intervene to safeguard British jobs.

Chip creators

ARM creates computer chip designs that others then customise to their own ends. It also develops instruction sets, which define how software controls processors.

It is based in Cambridge but also has offices across the world, including a joint venture in Shenzhen, China.

Hundreds of companies license its innovations including Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Qualcomm.

When Softbank acquired ARM, it promised to keep the company’s headquarters in the UK and to increase the number of local jobs, which it did.

California-headquartered Nvidia overtook Intel to become the world’s most valuable chipmaker in July.

Until now, it has specialised in high end graphics processing units (GPUs). These are commonly used by gamers to deliver more detailed visuals, as well as by professionals for tasks including scientific research, machine learning, and cryptocurrency “mining”.

But Nvidia is also one of ARM’s clients, using its designs to create its line-up of Tegra computer processing units (CPUs).

More to follow

Related Topics

  • Computing

  • ARM Holdings


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