16 minutes News

16 Minutes on the News #42: Nvidia + Arm

Steven Sinofsky, Frank Chen, and Sonal Chokshi

Posted October 3, 2020

We cover the latest news since Nvidia (maker of GPUs among other things) announced its intent to acquire Arm (provider of silicon IP for system-on-chips inside billions of devices), arguing that “This combination has tremendous benefits for both companies, our customers, and the industry.” But how so, when critics are worried about channel conflict, shepherding the broader ecosystem of users, and other issues? Some believe the deal may not go through, and there are also concerns about it for geopolitical reasons (U.S.-based Nvidia, UK-based Arm, China), so how do we tease apart “what’s hype/ what’s real” here when it comes to understanding the broader implications of the deal?

In this episode of our news analysis show, we go beyond the current headlines and focus on the deeper questions — and longer history of computing innovation — behind what a potential merger like this could mean for the industry. Given the various tech trends involved here — from cloud-native and mobile-first to “ML inside”, as well as computing going more and more to the edges — where do and don’t the (seemingly) inherent low-energy, low-cost advantages of the RISC architecture, or rather, Arm vs. Intel chip designs come in? Wherefore open source, could a consortium work? If value is always moving up the stack — and the divisions between hardware, software, firmware, applications, etc. don’t remain stable for a very long time — who are the players that are really changing the game here… And what if it’s the entire gameboard that’s changed? Former Microsoft Windows president and a16z board partner Steven Sinofsky and a16z operating partner Frank Chen share their thoughts on all this and more with host Sonal Chokshi.