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Report: Qualcomm Complained to Global Regulators About Nvidia's Arm Acquisition

nvidia arm

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Nvidia announced in September plans to acquire Arm, the self-described “leading provider of processor IP,” for approximately $40 billion. The announcement quickly drew criticism from other companies, regulators and Arm Hermann Hauser, who was instrumental in the first Arm design at Acorn Computing. Now we can add one more complainant to the list: CNBC today reported that Qualcomm ”told the Federal Trade Commission, the European Commission, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority and China’s State Administration for Market Regulation that it has concerns about Nvidia buying Arm.”

That might seem ironic, given Qualcomm’s own history of antitrust concerns, but that didn’t stop the company from making its complaints. It’s not hard to guess why. Arm’s IP can be found in practically every imaginable device category. Nvidia itself said in September that Arm licensees had shipped more than 180 billion devices based on the company’s technologies.

Nvidia promised that little would change about Arm if the acquisition were approved. It said it'd continue using the Arm brand, keep Arm headquartered in the UK and keep licensing Arm technology to other companies. Nvidia would also bolster Arm’s research and development efforts, it said, and complement the company’s IP with its own technologies. Such claims are often made when companies want regulators to approve their deals, however.

CNBC cited unnamed sources and reported that Qualcomm opposed Nvidia's acquisition "because it thinks there’s a very high risk that Nvidia could become a gatekeeper of Arm’s technology and prevent other chipmakers from using Arm’s intellectual property" and Nvidia won’t “be able to fully capitalize on the acquisition without crossing certain lines that people are worried about.”

The fear is that Nvidia will use Arm’s technologies to bolster its position in the artificial intelligence market, where Nvidia's graphics tech already gives it a solid foothold, and to better compete in the consumer technology market. 

Another concern—which Hauser voiced in August–is that Nvidia could simply decide not to uphold Arm’s neutrality, which could indirectly harm the competition. (Arm’s current owner, SoftBank, has largely avoided these criticisms because it’s not a chip maker.)

Some regulators appear to share those concerns. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority started to investigate the Nvidia-Arm acquisition in January, for example, and CNBC reported that the FTC’s investigation has moved to a “second phase.” The FTC is reportedly seeking information from Nvidia, Arm and SoftBank, as well as other companies that might be affected by the deal. That’s a long list. Some of Arm’s most noteworthy licensees include Apple, Samsung, Amazon... and Qualcomm.

Much of this was to be expected. Nvidia had to have known that acquiring Arm would be controversial, and it originally anticipated that it would take at least 18 months for the deal to be approved by regulators. This is a complex deal that affects much of the tech industry and involves tens of billions of dollars; nobody thought it would go uncontested. Qualcomm’s appeal to regulators around the world merely demonstrates just how fiercely Arm licensees may contest the acquisition.

  • hotaru.hino
    I don't blame them, considering NVIDIA is a competitor.

    It's like when TI wanted to get into the calculator business while everyone was using their chips, so they jacked up the price on everything in hopes of driving their competitors out of the market.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    So true!
    Other posibility is to reserve best products to yourself and sell only two or three years old designs to other manufacturers. Nothing prevents a company to not use ”official” arm designs...

    All in all having ”open” source for product owned by competitor can newer be good! It so very easily can lead to Many kind of anti competative behaviour.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    I don't think Nvidia has a good reputation of being a competition friendly company. If they were after ARM's IP, they don't have to acquire the whole company since they are already licensed users of ARM SOCs. Pretty sure Qualcomm will not be the only one that oppose to this merger. This one is going to be an interesting acquisition because there is going to be a lot of hurdles for Nvidia to clear.
    Reply
  • ginthegit
    I think that it is time for these other companies to use their old IP to develop their own chips inline with some open standards and Open the RISC processor IP up completely. They can get around legislation by claiming to create hardware that Runs the Current Android software rather than stealing new IP and this will lead to a huge loss in ARM revenue. An open standard with then be utilised in a free way that will destroy any RISK manopoly... Who says that ARM design should be the only one available for RISK.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    ginthegit said:
    I think that it is time for these other companies to use their old IP to develop their own chips inline with some open standards and Open the RISC processor IP up completely. They can get around legislation by claiming to create hardware that Runs the Current Android software rather than stealing new IP and this will lead to a huge loss in ARM revenue. An open standard with then be utilised in a free way that will destroy any RISK manopoly... Who says that ARM design should be the only one available for RISK.
    A lot of companies are looking into using RISC-V, but mostly for niche areas like controller chips and whatnot. Something the end user or an outside developer will likely never interact with. But like x86, ARM is going to stay around for a while because of the sheer number of products that run on it and changing over to a new architecture will take years of planning and years of riding out the wave of issues.
    Reply
  • ginthegit
    hotaru.hino said:
    A lot of companies are looking into using RISC-V, but mostly for niche areas like controller chips and whatnot. Something the end user or an outside developer will likely never interact with. But like x86, ARM is going to stay around for a while because of the sheer number of products that run on it and changing over to a new architecture will take years of planning and years of riding out the wave of issues.

    Not questioning the ARM ecosystem at all. The whole point I am making here is creating a new Processor from existing ARM IP and rather than have ARM driving the new Tech, Make heavily modified Tech out of your own Version (a bit like MS and Sony Did to the Zen cores in the new gen consoles.

    If ARM try to prevent them from doing their own Generational iterations in this way, Anti trust cases can be made against it opening up an New Open RISC architecture that would effectively exist like OpenGL exists with DirectX. MS and Sony Prove it can be done, but no one wants to.

    ARM has thus a Monopoly based on IP of new iterations of its hardware. For the sake of the RISC community, other architectures should be made to run the software. China is currently doing it with AMD Purchased IP, so it can be done... So if it is not tried, china will try and will kill ARM and western Tech with coordinated Spending withing the communist Structure, and will catch up eventually and out-price western tech.

    IP as in Patient property is totally corrupt, and will allow China through fair means or foul to destroy the western markets. Its CISC tech is quickly catching up after all.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    ginthegit said:
    Not questioning the ARM ecosystem at all. The whole point I am making here is creating a new Processor from existing ARM IP and rather than have ARM driving the new Tech, Make heavily modified Tech out of your own Version (a bit like MS and Sony Did to the Zen cores in the new gen consoles.
    The thing with ARM is it's an ISA, an instruction set. The latest iteration, ARMv8, hasn't really changed much since its introduction way back when in early 2010. What drives the innovation you seek is how the processor using it is implemented. Like for example, AMD owns the x86-64 ISA, but between Core 2 and Skylake, Intel has dominated in performance. And it's not like Intel can really add anything willy-nilly to the ISA to somehow generate that performance.

    If ARM try to prevent them from doing their own Generational iterations in this way, Anti trust cases can be made against it opening up an New Open RISC architecture that would effectively exist like OpenGL exists with DirectX. MS and Sony Prove it can be done, but no one wants to.
    Sony and Microsoft didn't do anything completely different. They just asked AMD to make a chip for them and all AMD did was marry Zen 2 cores and an RDNA GPU together into a single package. Something that AMD already does by making APUs. The only reason why nobody else would want to do it is it costs money to ask for something AMD doesn't already make. The SoC's in the consoles are not part of AMD's product line, and AMD isn't just going to make them just because.

    ARM has thus a Monopoly based on IP of new iterations of its hardware. For the sake of the RISC community, other architectures should be made to run the software. China is currently doing it with AMD Purchased IP, so it can be done... So if it is not tried, china will try and will kill ARM and western Tech with coordinated Spending withing the communist Structure, and will catch up eventually and out-price western tech.
    Of course they do, and companies that don't have the resources to develop their own CPU are stuck licensing their cores. But for people who do have the resources, they can develop their own CPU.

    However, using something open like RISC-V doesn't imply any implementation of it has to be open. Everyone can still make proprietary CPUs with open ISAs.
    Reply
  • ginthegit
    hotaru.hino said:
    The thing with ARM is it's an ISA, an instruction set. The latest iteration, ARMv8, hasn't really changed much since its introduction way back when in early 2010. What drives the innovation you seek is how the processor using it is implemented. Like for example, AMD owns the x86-64 ISA, but between Core 2 and Skylake, Intel has dominated in performance. And it's not like Intel can really add anything willy-nilly to the ISA to somehow generate that performance.


    Sony and Microsoft didn't do anything completely different. They just asked AMD to make a chip for them and all AMD did was marry Zen 2 cores and an RDNA GPU together into a single package. Something that AMD already does by making APUs. The only reason why nobody else would want to do it is it costs money to ask for something AMD doesn't already make. The SoC's in the consoles are not part of AMD's product line, and AMD isn't just going to make them just because.


    Of course they do, and companies that don't have the resources to develop their own CPU are stuck licensing their cores. But for people who do have the resources, they can develop their own CPU.

    However, using something open like RISC-V doesn't imply any implementation of it has to be open. Everyone can still make proprietary CPUs with open ISAs.

    On your first point, RISC is based on the Basic Instruction set since the 8086 chip. The whole point in RISC was to keep the execution core to its basic and run all new and complex instructions (ran on CISC equivalents) with a basic command set. In fact ARM only add extra instructions that change the hardware operation at a Kernel based level rather than core. So rather than deal with the instruction sets, they deal with changing between Big and Little sets of cores.... and what a waste that has proved, and one that the Ecosystem loves because it means that the Fab plants can charge the consumer more for the product. So, in other words, an Octacore chip provides you with 2 sets of cores that cannot run concurrent, but switch between then. This increases cost and is a poor implementation of resources, but the public literally buy into it at their own expense. Being an ASIC's designer myself, I find ARM a wasteful and gimmick company that provides little value to the eco system. In fact, it often raises it bar (in terms of performance) by using CISC IP.

    Secondly, Intel and AMD can make the changes to the architecture as a customer demands, but now they dont have to. Digital design and Sequential logic for CISC operations is easy enough, and companies like APPLE can use their own engineers to modify the Chips without AMD knowing, so long as they don't infringe on Intels or AMD IP in the process when it has not be licensed.

    And Yes Intel tried to dominate the ARCHITECTURE increments from 586 + by paying programmers and gaming houses to ignore the competitions iterations of Hardware Changes. So when 3Dnow came along, Intel came along with SSE1 and used unfair practice to force MOST, not all, but most software developers to follow this architecture rather than its competition. So ARM does not have to dominate the progress of the new iterations of hardware progression on the RISC ecosystem. AMD, beat Intel at its own game on so many occasions with its SSE1A, albeit at a small compromise on performance.

    As with AMD's bulldozer, it showed to the Public what AMD and Intel really do, and that is just re-oganising pipelines and physical structures of operation handling in the chip. This is essentially all ARM does too. AMD finally figured out by trial and error, with Ryzen 1, that memory material and speed of Logic Gate operation due to back ground tech was killing it, rather than its Architecture design.

    Essentially, all the tech is the same, it is made up of Logic gates with Next state logic design (state diagram melee or Moore) with essentially the same IBM registry setup from the 60's with Shift registers and JK flipflops. Each iteration is just trying to reorganise these simple circuits and make the interconnects and VIAs as short as possible, the CISC element is proving (as RYZEN is now showing) that the CISC elements are wasteful and often dont produce as many pipeline hits as it used to. Hence GPUs are becoming a better option for faster computation... Hence RISC is catching up with some of the designers like Samsung, that only Loosely follow ARMS ASIC design in favour of their own. The GPU element more and more being used to speed up complex operations on the CPU,

    China will eventually Move in its own direction once it figures out the CISC from the Ryzens first iterations. Then it will stop selling rare earth materials and destroy the western dominance on the electronic market. Trump could see it, and tried to stop it, but Clueless Biden will allow China to have the time it needs.

    And, yes, AMD does own the 64 bit iteration of the CISC systems, but only because INTEL created its own iterations to only work with a 64 bit command set. AMD made a hybrid that would work with all 8-64 bit structures, and no amount of bribery was going to stop AMD's dominance. Now Intel Could move over to 128 bit (not that it needs to as 64 bit covers the memory problems it was meant to solve), but could do 2 bits simultaneously... Oh yes! it already does that with AVX, its just that they are waiting for the chance to capitalise that never came (and the fact that Parity checks became massively more complex and Spectre kicked in).

    But to finish up. ARM only has dominance because no comany wants to become the AMD of RISC. Not until China chooses to.
    Reply