Arm Says There Will Be “Firewalls” Between Them and NVIDIA

By Bill Toulas / October 8, 2020

Arm’s president of IP Products Group, Rene Haas, has told Reuters that the company is planning to raise confidentiality boundaries against NVIDIA. The sole purpose of this will be to ensure that the open character in Arm’s licensing scheme will stay unchanged, and that large companies will continue to trust the chip designer. So, according to Haas, Arm won’t be an open book to NVIDIA, but will instead share only the absolutely essential information with its parent company, at least in the first few years.

As he stated, the company will evaluate this approach in every step of the way and may decide to share more if NVIDIA wins their trust. For starters, early access to new technologies won’t be given to Nvidia, or else other customers, like Intel, for example, would start looking elsewhere.

This is a crucial competition-related element that arises directly from NVIDIA, and which Arm wishes to put aside. The two companies are already negotiating the context within this can work, but Arm won’t back on its stance to keep their customers’ confidential information fully protected from NVIDIA.

Roughly three weeks ago, NVIDIA agreed with SoftBank on a $40 billion deal that would pass Arm into the American GPU maker’s hands. NVIDIA wants to invest heavily in AI technologies and believes that the Arm acquisition will accelerate its efforts on that part greatly. At the same time, they reassured everyone that the open-licensing model that underpins Arm’s business model would not change. As it seems, though, Arm doesn’t want to leave customer neutrality in NVIDIA’s hands.

The only scenario that will see Arm changing direction is if they see major customers moving to RISC-V, which is an open-source competitor. If that happens, Arm will open the information tap and seek for a more dynamic collaboration with NVIDIA that will push them in a stronger market position.

From its side, NVIDIA is in the process of trying to convince the UK to accept the acquisition and approve of the deal. In this context, they have announced the donation of a £40 million ($51.7 million) supercomputer called “Cambridge-1” to help researchers and scientists in the country speed up the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK government is under pressure to intervene, as many are voicing concerns about what Americans plan to do with Arm, as well as the associated jobs in the UK. The risks are many, and the real intentions are shady, so the UK government is called to disentangle a pretty complicated case.

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