Jensen Huang's defence of the Nvidia-ARM deal: Page 3 of 4

September 15, 2020 // By Peter Clarke
Jensen Huang's defence of the Nvidia-ARM deal
Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, and Simon Segars, CEO of ARM, spent a great deal of Monday September 14 on conference calls arranged to suit various time zones explaining the proposed merger of their two companies.

A journalist pointed out that UK government had extracted time-based legally-binding conditions on ARM's current owner SoftBank Group Corp. when it acquired ARM for $31 billion back in 2016 and that these conditions, around employment and being based in the UK, are due to expire in 2021. Had Nvidia made similar undertakings or was it prepared to extend the current undertakings?

"We're open-minded to talk to the UK government," said Huang before adding that the UK government should be very keen on the deal because of all the things Nvidia is promising to do in Cambridge. These include expanding ARM R&D and building an AI research center to house an Nvidia-ARM based supercomputer there.

"How that's documented, we're more than delighted to have that discussion. We've just started the conversation with the UK government. We have plenty of time to do it," said Huang.

It would appear Huang and Nvidia are not as keen on making legally-binding commitments as they are on making verbal promises, but that should not be a surprise. But at the same time Huang appears to be so keen on the deal that he would be prepared to sign some sort of agreement with the UK government.

Getting down to the nitty gritty an analyst asked: "Would a combined Nvidia-ARM continue to develop ARM's Mali graphics processor architecture and continue to use the RISC-V processor architecture?" Huang was quick with his answer; "Yes and yes."

He pointed out the Nvidia graphics and Mali graphics are aimed at different markets and they both serve them well. There was room for both to go on developing. On RISC-V he said: "We are enthusiastic users of both ARM and RISC-V. They are very different things." He said the ARM architecture and cores have the advantage of a rich ecosystem helping get products to market, legacy software and lots of developers working on applications and software – but not all use cases need that. "We use RISC-V internally all over our large chips and we will continue to do that," said Huang.

So it would seem that the RISC-V architecture is better than the ARM architecture, or at least more cost-effective; unless you need to run legacy software or need a rich ecosystem to help you get product out the door. Otherwise why wouldn't Nvidia use small ARM cores all over its large chips instead of RISC-V? And that is according to the would-be owner of ARM.

Next: Regulatory concern

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