Arm won’t give Nvidia a leg up on rivals, CEOs argue

By Robert Scammell

The controversial merger of Nvidia and Arm would benefit the market, the two company’s CEOs have reiterated as the deal faces multiple antitrust probes.

Arm CEO Simon Segars said his company needed Nvidia’s resources to deal with the high demand for its semiconductor designs.

“The range of products that our licensees want to build is growing and growing. What they’re asking from us is increasing and increasing because of the complexity going up. There’s no way that we could do it on our own,” Segars said at the Six Five Summit on Thursday.

He went on to argue that Nvidia’s extra resources would allow it to expand its portfolio, which would in turn provide extra value for the market.

Companies relying on Arm’s intellectual property such as Intel and AMD have criticised the $40bn merger because they compete in the same market as Nvidia.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said that the two companies would remain independent but “complement” each other. Rivals and critics have warned that Arm, which provides semiconductor licenses used in the majority of smartphones and a wide range of electronic devices, could be forced to share information with Nvidia that would give it a competitive advantage.

Huang added: “Arm is a world-class CPU IP company, and the most popular CP core in the world. Nvidia is a platform technology company. We’re about the peripherals, the accelerated computing, the software stack, we’re a platform company.”

Nvidia also said it would invest “$100m just as a starting point” in the Cambridge-1 supercomputer.

The sum is a near doubling of the $55m committed by Nvidia for the project back in October. Huang has pledged to keep jobs in Cambridge, where Arm is headquartered, and making investments in the area.

“I mean, it’s a big investment,” he said. “It is the most powerful supercomputer in the UK, and researchers are super excited about it.”

The two CEOs also said the merger would help Arm increase its share of the data centre chip market. The market has historically been dominated by Intel but Arm, along with AMD, have been eating into its share.

Nvidia first announced the Arm deal in September 2020. It has since come under regulatory scrutiny in the EU to establish whether it would reduce competition in the semiconductor industry.

The UK has launched a separate probe on “national security grounds”. Arm is currently owned by Japan’s Softbank but it has a division in China, which must also provide approval to the deal.

Founded in 1990, Arm is a key player in the technology ecosystem. Nvidia’s main business has been graphics processing units for the gaming industry, automotive and enterprise solutions, but it also produces processors and systems-on-chips, often using Arm designs.