Qualcomm Eyes Tech Consortium Investment In Arm If NVIDIA Acquisition Implodes

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NVIDIA announced its intention to purchase Arm last year for a record $40 billion. With Arm under its helm, the company would play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the chip architecture that powers billions of devices (and growing) around the globe.

Given the many players that leverage Arm chip designs – including heavy hitters like Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, MediaTek, and countless others – the deal has faced heavy regulatory scrutiny. With this in mind, incoming Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon is offering an alternative to an NVIDIA-only agreement.

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Incoming Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon

Amon suggested to The Telegraph that Qualcomm could join a consortium of key industry players in a bid to capture Arm from current owner SoftBank. There has certainly been plenty of antitrust buzz surrounding an NVIDIA deal, and major tech companies like Google and Microsoft have already expressed their opposition.

"If Arm has an independent future, I think you will find there is a lot of interest from a lot of the companies within the ecosystem, including Qualcomm, to invest in Arm," said Amon. "We will definitely be open to it, and we have had discussions with other companies that feel the same way. That's the reason it's a logical conclusion for us, and for many other companies, that to invest in a strong and independent Arm is probably the best for everyone."

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NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang

At least two of the companies involved in those discussions include Amazon and Tesla. For its part, Qualcomm leverages Arm designs for its family of Snapdragon SoCs that power the vast majority of Android smartphones and Windows 10 PCs sold globally. So it has a vested interest in trying to keep Arm independent.

On the other hand, NVIDIA feels confident that the deal will proceed as initially planned despite any current rumblings about it falling apart due to antitrust fears. "The regulators will see the wisdom of it, and our discussions with them are as expected and constructive. I'm confident that we'll still get the deal done in 2022, which is when we expected it in the first place, about 18 months," said NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang in April.

"On the one hand, it expands Arm into new computing platforms that otherwise would be difficult," Huang added. "On the other hand, it expands NVIDIA's AI platform into the Arm ecosystem, which is underexposed to NVIDIA's AI and accelerated computing platform."

If NVIDIA completes its Arm acquisition, the effects will be wide-ranging despite the company's assurance that licensing terms will continue unchanged. Tell us in the comments section below your thoughts on an NVIDIA-Arm deal and a potential challenge from Qualcomm and its tech friends.