In the biggest roadblock yet to NVIDIA’s proposed acquisition of Arm, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced this afternoon that the regulatory body will be suing to block the merger. Citing concerns over the deal “stifling the innovation pipeline for next-generation technologies”, the FTC is moving to scuttle the $40 billion deal in order to protect the interests of the wider marketplace.

The deal with current Arm owner SoftBank was first announced in September of 2020, where at the time SoftBank had been shopping Arm around in an effort to either sell or spin-off the technology IP company. And while NVIDIA entered into the deal with bullish optimism about being able to close it without too much trouble, the company has since encountered greater political headwinds than expected due to the broad industry and regulatory discomfort with a single chip maker owning an IP supplier used by hundreds of other chip makers. The FTC, in turn, is the latest and most powerful regulatory body to move to investigate the deal – voting 4-0 to file the suit – following the European Union opening a probe into the merger earlier this fall. The

While the full FTC complaint has yet to be released, per a press release put out by the agency earlier today, the crux of the FTC’s concerns revolve around the advantage over other chip makers that NVIDIA would gain from owning Arm, and the potential for misconduct and other unfair acts against competitors that also rely on Arm’s IP. In particular, the FTC states that “Tomorrow’s technologies depend on preserving today’s competitive, cutting-edge chip markets. This proposed deal would distort Arm’s incentives in chip markets and allow the combined firm to unfairly undermine Nvidia’s rivals.”

To that end, the FTC’s complaint is primarily focusing on product categories where NVIDIA already sells their own Arm-based hardware. This includes Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for cars, Data Processing Units (DPUs) and SmartNICs, and, of course, Arm-based CPUs for servers. These are all areas where NVIDIA is an active competitor, and as the FTC believes, would provide incentive for NVIDIA to engage in unfair competition.

More interesting, perhaps, is the FTC’s final concern about the Arm acquisition: that the deal will give NVIDIA access to “competitively sensitive information of Arm’s licensees”, which NVIDIA could then abuse for their own gain. Since many of Arm’s customers/licensees are directly reliant on Arm’s core designs (as opposed to just licensing the architecture), they are also reliant on Arm to add features and make other alterations that they need for future generations of products. As a result, Arm’s customers regularly share what would be considered sensitive information with the company, which the FTC in turn believes could be abused by NVIDIA to harm rivals, such as by withholding the development of features that these rival-customers need.

NVIDIA, in turn, has announced that they will be fighting the FTC lawsuit, stating that “As we move into this next step in the FTC process, we will continue to work to demonstrate that this transaction will benefit the industry and promote competition.”

Ultimately, even if NVIDIA is successful in defending the acquisition and defeating the FTC’s lawsuit, today’s announcement means that the Arm acquisition has now been set back by at least several months. NVIDIA’s administrative trial is only scheduled to begin on August 9, 2022, almost half a year after NVIDIA initially expected the deal to close. And at this point, it’s unclear how long a trial would last – and how long it would take to render a verdict.

Source: United States Federal Trade Commission

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  • GeoffreyA - Friday, December 24, 2021 - link

    Watched half of Resurrections last night, and one notion was that of agent programs being "skinned" with human personalities.
  • mode_13h - Saturday, December 25, 2021 - link

    I watched the first 3 Matrix movies. I didn't too much mind the sequels, but didn't really think they were up to the level of the first movie. I recently watched it again, right around its 20 year anniversary. Ah, nostalgic.

    I didn't plan on watching Resurrections. Maybe if the reviews are really good, but I'm not really interested in seeing more movies like #2 and #3.

    Aside from being a bit gratuitous, I thought Ex Machina was pretty good. So far, I think Next (the series that originally aired in 2020) is one of the more plausible visions of a rogue AI taking over.

    P.S. Happy Holidays!
  • GeoffreyA - Sunday, December 26, 2021 - link

    Reloaded and Revolutions were overdone, CGI-drenched action movies. The 1999 original was about a concept. Once revealed, there was little left. I expected Resurrections to be a disaster, but was surprised, and felt it had a poignancy that was missing before. Also, seeing these beloved characters back after so long was really something. I would say, if you loved the original, Resurrections is worth it. Faithful, with a wiser perspective. And while there were some ugly CGI patches, I was shocked to see a 2021 movie---and Matrix of all things!---looking pretty real a lot of the time.

    Ex Machina was excellent, but left me feeling rather unsettled. Perhaps it was that unlikeable man who created the androids. I'm fond of Blade Runner 2049, which, admittedly, is a bit low on AI philosophy. Haven't seen Next but I'll take a look when I get a chance.

    Same to you and your family. Happy holidays!
  • GeoffreyA - Sunday, December 26, 2021 - link

    (Forgot to add: Steins;Gate 0 dealt with AI generally and is worth watching. And Time of Eve, in a more light-hearted fashion, looked at android equality.)
  • mode_13h - Sunday, December 26, 2021 - link

    Regarding Steins Gate, I'm basically done with time travel in movies & TV. I might make an exception for Tenet, which was well-reviewed and sounds genuinely creative.

    I actually have seen Time of Eve (as well as all of the Ghost in the Shell TV and movies). I even recommended it to someone else.
  • mode_13h - Sunday, December 26, 2021 - link

    About the second and third movies, that's pretty much what I was thinking.

    I need to re-watch Blade Runner 2049. There were definitely things about it I didn't fully grasp. I preceded it by watching the Director's Cut of the original movie, which just looked fantastic and was pretty fun in that retro-future sort of way.

    Next is a little sketchy on some of the technical details, I think mostly driven by a desire to create an ongoing sense of dramatic tension, but gets enough things right to be truly unsettling.

    Actually, it occurs to me there was a 2008 movie called Eagle Eye that's in a somewhat similar vein as Next. Worth a watch, I'd say.
  • GeoffreyA - Tuesday, December 28, 2021 - link

    I did see Tenet and meant to watch it again because a lot was puzzling. Certainly creative and well executed, but I ended up feeling Inception was still the better movie. Anyway, there's a car chase in Tenet that's worth its weight in gold.

    Ghost in the Shell, 1995, was a masterwork, and the Wachowskis seem to have got a lot of ideas from it.

    Also saw the Director's Cut of BR, or the Final Cut as they're calling the best version nowadays, and it looked terrific. (The negative was supposedly scanned at 8K.) The first BR had that distinctive ambience. Plus, who could forget those umbrellas! My favourite scene is Deckard's questioning of Rachel, where, smoking her cigarette, she answers him famously. 2049 delivered; but I felt it didn't have that many ideas. What draws me is the otherworldly atmosphere and beautiful photography. And that part when K's "wife" bids him farewell, what a sad, golden moment; filmmaking at its best.
  • mode_13h - Sunday, December 5, 2021 - link

    > so many comments are using the false claim that some corporations are benevolent people

    Who here has actually *said* they're benevolent?

    I think the real issue is market power. You don't want one actor to have too much of it.

    > the corporation exists to do one thing

    The wealthy exist to enrich themselves. Corporations are but one tool they use to do it. The point shouldn't be to debate whether greed exists. The point should be how to *use* the powerful motivation of greed to do useful and beneficial work, while minimizing the incentives for it to cause harm.

    > Corporations are a machine designed by the former to milk the latter.
    > The masses get some shiny toys and quality of life improvements
    > to partially compensate them for the exploitation – to keep them pacified.

    As you seem to acknowledge, corporations supply more than just shiny toys. You can't look only at the harm they do. If you talk about any realistic reform, you also need to replace the benefits and services they provide.

    You also can't wish greed out of existence. The best we can do is try to manage (and harness) it.

    > Insiders on MSNBC blithely stated

    Sounds like editorial content, rather than reporting. I guess you found that by searching for some source that aligned with your thinking on these issues? You know that's confirmation bias, right? There could be 99% of datapoints that refute your claims, but if you conduct your search in a way likely to return just the 1% that agree, you come away feeling validated. That's why scientists (and good economists) try to devise good tests that would *disprove* their hypothesis, in order to truly test it.

    > the DOJ has long had a policy of fining corporations rather than jailing executives.

    The standard for prosecuting executives is very high. You have to prove intent, which is a high bar for resource-starved SEC lawyers to meet. Consequently, they tend to go after things that are easier to prove, such as insider trading. I wish it weren't so, but the way you presented it makes it sound like the DOJ is corrupt. It's not, but the same cannot be said of some of those controlling its budget.

    > The illogical claim is ... if the corporation would suddenly be shut down —
    > as if it couldn't simply get replacement executives.

    No, I don't believe that factors into the decision-making process. Care to cite any first-hand DOJ sources on that?

    There have indeed been prosecutions of top executives, such as in the cases of Worldcom, Tyco, Enron, Merrill Lynch, and those are just the ones that come to mind. Even now, there's the Theranos case. Of course there *should* be many more, but these cases and the Sarbanes–Oxley Act show some willingness to hold executives to account.

    > The expectation is that the masses will hear the nice words, nod,
    > and never unpack them to see the falsity.

    No, I doubt that. You impugn motives too easily, given your proclivity to decry these sorts of claims made by others.

    > You are worried about what 'Microsoft thinks' after what Microsoft's
    > executives did to IBM via the OS/2 scam?

    That was over 25 years ago. Not only does technology evolve, but also the law's attempts to regulate it. Not least, because its role in our lives is now so much more pervasive and fundamental. Also, now lawmakers, judges, and lawyers are increasingly well-versed in it.
  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, December 15, 2021 - link

    ‘I think the real issue is market power. You don't want one actor to have too much of it.’

    That’s the straw man.
  • mode_13h - Friday, December 17, 2021 - link

    How is that a straw man?

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