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Nvidia in Advanced Talks to Acquire SoftBank-owned Chip Maker ARM For $32 Billion

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Buying ARM would consolidate graphics giant Nvidia’s position at the centre of the semiconductor industry.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 11:05 AM IST

US chip-maker Nvidia is reportedly in advance talks to acquire SoftBank-owned UK chip company ARM in a cash-and-stock deal worth at least $32 billion. According to a report in the Financial Times on Friday citing sources, the talks began after “Nvidia approached SoftBank, which has been pursuing a series of other asset sales, about a potential acquisition”. The proposed deal includes “both cash and stock and that it valued ARM at above the $32bn price that SoftBank paid for the business in 2016”. Both Nvidia and ARM did not comment on the report. The British chip designer powers major mobile processor from companies like Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung and Huawei.

Apple last month confirmed its break up with Intel chips for ARM chips in its Mac desktops, announcing it will transition the Mac to its world-class custom silicon to deliver industry-leading performance and powerful new technologies. Buying ARM would consolidate graphics giant Nvidia’s position at the centre of the semiconductor industry. SoftBank bought ARM for $31 billion in 2016. Microsoft makes an ARM-based Surface laptop and a version of Windows designed for ARM. According to The Verge, Nvidia would make an interesting owner for ARM. While Nvidia is the leader for GPUs, it has little to do with CPU design or mobile hardware.

Nvidia said this week it delivered the world’s fastest Artificial Intelligence (AI) training performance among commercially available chips, a feat that will help big enterprises tackle the most complex challenges in AI, data science and scientific computing. Nvidia A100 GPUs and DGX SuperPOD systems were declared the world’s fastest commercially available products for AI training, according to MLPerf benchmarks. The A100 Tensor Core GPU demonstrated the fastest performance per accelerator on all eight MLPerf benchmarks.



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Apple Silicon to Power Future Mac Devices, First Product to Arrive This year

The cat is finally out of the bag. The Mac range is going to transition to ARM-based processors, custom made by Apple. Making the announcement at this year’s online-only WWDC 2020 (Worldwide Developers Conference) event, CEO Tim Cook quoted it as a ‘historic change’ for the Mac. The company also confirmed that it will be launching its first ARM chipset-based Mac product later this year and has planned for a complete transition in the next two years.

Details about the chipset haven’t been shared yet and while this might sound like bad news for Intel, Apple said that it is not completely moving away yet. In fact, it still has a few upcoming Mac products in the pipeline.

Apple believes that its new custom chipset will be able to deliver great performance at the same time being power efficient. This would also be great for developers as they can now develop apps across Apple’s product lineup. Yes, with the new ARM-based chipset, Macs will now be one step closer to run iOS and iPad apps natively in macOS in the future.

With the announcement of its new chipset plans, Apple also announced the next version of macOS which is dubbed ‘Big Sur’. It is a big redesign of macOS including new icon design and updates to built-in apps like Messages and Maps. The company is also planning to update its range of pro software, to support the new chipset in macOS. Even third party software like Microsoft Word and Excel will be going to be supported on the new chips. Apple also showed a demo where Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop were able to handle a 5GB PSD file with ease.

To begin its transition to ARM, macOS Big Sur will include and updated version of Rosetta. That name might sound familiar, as it was used in the past during the shift from PowerPC to Intel-based Macs. Apple says that Rosetta 2 will have the ability to translate existing apps at install time. So in case, a developer hasn’t updated their app, they should technically still work with minor changes required.

Developers can begin tweaking for the upcoming transition to ARM with a Developer Transition Kit that will include a small device in the shape of an Apple TV with desktop-level hardware including 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. There is also a quick start program for developers which will include documentation and sample code, along with access to labs around the world so they can transition existing apps to Apple’s custom chipset.


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