The big news of the weekend was NVIDIA's $40 billion acquisition of ARM. The deal still needs regularly approval, which may cause some issues, but if everything goes well it could become a very interesting evolution of NVIDIA's business.
In a conference call with analysts, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang answered questions about the deal. NVIDIA's ambitions have long stretched beyond the video card market. Over a decade ago the company came up with CUDA and started breaking into the HPC market. Last quarter NVIDIA's datacenter product sales were bigger than gaming sales for the first time in the company's history.
But one thing missing piece of the puzzle is the processor. Could the acquisition of ARM change this? By being able to make its own CPUs, NVIDIA would be able to provide a complete server platform including its own CPUs, GPUs, networking, and DPUs. It will give NVIDIA full control over the ARM ISA and roadmap, allowing the firm to put NVIDIA-specific optimizations into the ARM architecture -- which could further boost sales of its server GPU accelerators.
In response to a question from Timothy Prickett Morgan of TheNextPlatform, Huang confirmed there are three options and that we may indeed see NVIDIA-branded server processors:
"Well, the first of all you've made an amazing observation, which is all three options are possible," Huang responded, "[...] So now with our backing and Arm’s serious backing, the world can stand on that foundation and realize that they can build server CPUs. Now, some people would like to license the cores and build a CPU themselves. Some people may decide to license the cores and ask us to build those CPUs or modify ours."
"It is not possible for one company to build every single version of them," Huang continued, "but we will have the entire network of partners around Arm that can take the architectures we come up with and depending on what's best for them, whether licensing the core, having a semi-custom chip made, or having a chip that we made, any of those any of those options are available. Any of those options are available, we're open for business and we would like the ecosystem to be as rich as possible, with as many options as possible."