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Podcast: Fallouts from Aborted Nvidia-Arm Deal Persist

Nvidia opened Arm licensees’ eyes to the dangers they faced and now they are scrambling for alternatives to the Arm architecture. Are these moves too late?
Mike Feibus
Mike Feibus, president and principal analyst of FeibusTech

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By Bolaji Ojo

Nearly three years ago, Mike Feibus bluntly told the editors of the Ojo-Yoshida Report that Nvidia’s then planned $40 billion purchase of Arm Ltd., would not happen. The deal died as Feibus had predicted, squashed by “significant regulatory challenges.”

Feibus, principal analyst at FeibusTech, had dubbed the transaction “blatantly anticompetitive,” adding in an article that Arm is “no ordinary chip designer” and that “no company with architectural interests of any consequence should be allowed to take over the front office.”

The effects of that aborted transition endure. Arm has yet to conduct its initial public offering, the fallback option from the Nvidia deal. Shocked by the unexpected Nvidia move for Arm, the rest of the industry – especially Arm licensees – started asking previously unthinkable questions: what if Nvidia had succeeded in capturing Arm and what alternatives would they have for such a widely used architecture?

It turns out that the Arm alternatives – RISC-V and MIPS – persist but yet to deepen their reach enough to displace or pose a significant threat to their semiconductor IP rival. It is too early to know if a joint veture recently created by Bosch, Infineon, Nordic, NXP and Qualcomm to boost RISC-V will make a dent.

So, what does Feibus think of the unfolding landscape? Catching up with Arm will take “another five years,” said Feibus, who is also a member of the Ojo-Yoshida Report editorial advisory board.

No matter how many companies are interested in propping up RISC-V, it is still swimming upstream,” he said, during a podcast interview. “Still, [the JV members] are trying to keep their options open as much as possible. I mean, these companies would be crazy not to do everything they can to develop their plan B, the way things are going.”

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