Nvidia announced Sunday that it is acquiring chip designer Arm from SoftBank in a deal valued at $40 billion.
Arm Holdings is the semiconductor conductor whose ARM architecture Apple has long licensed for its A-series chips for iPhone and iPad. It is also crucial to the upcoming Apple Silicon processors for Mac. Under the new ownership, Arm will continue its current “open-licensing model.”
The possibility of a Nvidia Arm acquisition was first raised earlier this year. At the time, it was reported that Apple had participated in early stage conversations with SoftBank about acquiring its Arm Holdings. However, it dropped out of talks. This may have been because of concerns about how Arm’s licensing operation would fit within Apple’s business model.
One question mark with the deal is what it will mean to have Nvidia run a company Apple works so closely with. Apple and Nvidia’s relationship has been strained over the years. Failing Nvidia GPUs in Apple’s MacBooks 12 years ago resulted in Apple offering free repairs and refunds. Apple subsequently began using AMD GPUs. Things haven’t really gotten better since then.
This deal means that both companies will, once again, be working together. But there is likely no reason for concern. Apple has a perpetual license for the ARM instruction set, which means Apple is safe from having any license revoked or similar due to any kind of falling out.
Before any of this becomes a big deal, though, regulatory approval has to be granted. This will need to take place in the U.S., Europe, China, and the UK. Completion of the deal is expected to take around 18 months.