Nvidia was approached by SoftBank to buy Arm, not the other way around

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang in front of a render of Nvidia's Santa Clara HQ
(Image credit: Nvidia)
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With Nvidia trying its best to buy Arm, you might think that the supersized US GPU giant is the driving force behind the $40 billion deal. Yet according to a recently published report to the UK Government's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), it was actually SoftBank, the current owner of Arm, that came to Nvidia's doorstep first.

"Nvidia did not approach SoftBank to buy Arm," a report, written by Nvidia and Arm and published to the UK Government website (opens in new tab), says. "Nvidia is a strong supporter of the x86 ecosystem and has developed accelerated computing platforms for x86 PCs and datacenters throughout its history. Intel and AMD make industry-leading CPUs and SoCs suitable for many industries and products, including Nvidia’s own DGX systems and supercomputers such as Cambridge-1.

So what? You might say. Well, according to the two companies, that makes a big difference to why the two companies $40B merger should go ahead, and why Nvidia shouldn't be seen to be trying to purposefully make Arm's business less open to all.

"When SoftBank approached Nvidia with the possibility to buy Arm, the Parties realized that Nvidia would be uniquely suited to help Arm create new IP and develop a world-class ecosystem that could stand as an alternative to x86, giving customers more choice and growing markets worldwide. A viable alternative ecosystem would spur growth and demand for Nvidia’s platforms. It would encourage the x86 giants to innovate and expand their offerings as well, benefitting Nvidia."

The x86 giants here being Intel and AMD, of course. There are plenty of mentions for them in Nvidia and Arm's most recent report, including some that are quite complimentary.

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Arm designs chips that companies can use, for a fee. Similarly, other companies buy a license to do what they want with Arm's chips, acting as a basis for their own development. Companies such as Apple, who bought a license to Arm's architectures for its own development and use in its M1 chip (opens in new tab) and further designs.

That's partially why Nvidia is now facing some serious lines of questioning from global regulators on what it intends to do with Arm, the UK-based chip designer, including the UK's CMA. Which is why Nvidia and Arm have effusively laid out how they see things going down, and how it doesn't see Nvidia and Arm's fairly massive combined impact on the chipmaking world to be of massive import.

Others disagree, of course, and the deal is facing opposition across the globe (opens in new tab).

Who will come out on top—Nvidia, Arm, and sellers SoftBank; or the deal's opponents—is yet to be determined, but Nvidia has a long way to go before sealing the deal.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.