Arm has become a pretty common name in modern chip, CPU, and GPU design. The UK-based chip architecture company has collaborated with around 500 technology companies who feature chips based on Arm design. Notably among those is Apple and its chip supplier Qualcomm. However, Qualcomm is feeling threatened about the future of Arm licensing and availability. Currently, Nvidia is pursuing an acquisition of the Arm brand and, if it goes through, Qualcomm fears Nvidia could gatekeep Arm technology to make the deal profitable.
Qualcomm recently registered objections against the Nvidia acquisition of Arm via the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the European Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority, and China's State Administration for Market Regulation, as reported by MacRumors. In its complaint, Qualcomm expressed that Nvidia’s deal with Arm (currently owned by Japanese company SoftBank) could threaten supply to Nvidia competitors who rely on the technology. Arm’s architecture is currently used in around 95 percent of the world’s ongoing smart phone production, and with Qualcomm partner Apple and AMD in direct competition to Nvidia, Qualcomm believes it risks placing the quality and availability of Arm’s chip architecture in a single competitor’s hands.
Indeed, Apple’s 2020 technology reveals prominently featured a wealth of Arm technology, including the company’s transition to ARM technology for the Mac, starting with the release of a new MacBook Pro featuring Apple’s new ARM-based M1 system on a chip. In this case, Qualcomm’s concern over Nvidia taking over control of a major contributing force in Apple’s latest technology might be valid.
For its part, Nvidia claims its efforts are simply to create a “premier computing company for the age of AI,” and has pledged to keep Arm in Cambridge, England where its headquarters is currently located. Regardless, anticompetition regulators around the world still have plenty to investigate in regards to Nvidia’s acquisition. Whether or not Qualcomm’s objections will hold up remains to be seen. Stay tuned to Shacknews as we continue to monitor further developments on this matter.