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Could SoftBank's Son Kill Arm with His AI Vision?

The talk is that SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son wants to transform his company into an AI processor powerhouse and intends to use Arm as a vehicle to achieve this.
Could SoftBank's Son kill ARM with His AI Vision?
Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp. (Image: CNN)

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By Peter Clarke

What’s at stake:
Arm, founded in 1990, more or less invented the business model of licensing circuits and computing architectures as intellectual property. It achieved success in what were then new, embedded markets, such as mobile phones, industrial and automotive electronics. The Arm architecture is now penetrating servers, AI, PCs and high-performance computing. But all is at risk if SoftBank insists on using Arm to compete with customers such as Nvidia. That is unless you consider Arm’s licensing business model will soon be on the wane due to a flight to RISC-V.

Nikkei reported last week that Arm Holdings plc is planning to set up an AI chip division and have an AI processor on sale in the Fall of 2025. And that this would be the behest of majority shareholder SoftBank Group and its CEO Masayoshi Son.

Arm has not previously sought to compete with its licensees and its independence was always seen as a strength. If SoftBank insists on indulging in vision-driven tinkering with the Arm business model, it could hasten the rise of the open-source, extensible RISC-V ISA as the go-to alternative to Arm.

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