In a purchase that may shake up the smartphone manufacturing landscape, Nvidia Corp. announced Sunday, September 13 it had agreed to purchase Arm Ltd. from SoftBank Group Corp. for $40 billion. The deal will see Nvidia, a U.S.-based tech firm that specializes in the design of graphics-processing chips, with Arm, which designs processor architecture key to the operation of small computers like smartphones. Softbank, a Japanese technology conglomerate, purchased Arm in 2016 for $32 billion.
The move is likely to make a stir among smartphone manufacturers. Arm owns and license a set of instructions that almost all smartphone companies lease and base their own chips on. Phones produced by Apple, Huawei, Samsung and Qualcomm all use Arm-based chips, which are simpler than traditional processing units but draw less power.
The current terms of the agreement, scheduled to close by March 2022, will see Nvidia pay Softbank $21.5 billion in stock and $12 billion in cash. In addition, if Arm meets certain financial targets, Nvidia agreed to pay Softbank up to $5 billion more.
According to a statement from Nvidia, Arm will remain at its current headquarters in Cambridge, U.K., and establish an AI research center there with a supercomputer powered by Nvidia and Arm technology.
“AI is the most powerful technology force of our time and has launched a new wave of computing,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia. In a statement, Huang said the combination of Nvidia and Arm would “create a company fabulously positioned for the age of AI.”
Simon Segars, CEO of Arm, said his company shares a “passion” with Nvidia for “ubiquitous, energy-efficient computing.”
Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank Group, called Nvidia “the perfect partner for Arm.”
The sale is subject to regulatory approval from China, the E.U., the U.K. and the U.S., but may receive extra scrutiny thanks to Arm’s ubiquity in the world’s cellphones. Nvidia vowed it would retain Arm’s previous business model, under which it treated all of its licensees equally.