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Apple To Buy ARM? 695

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the rumor-mill-working-overtime dept.
gyrogeerloose writes "An article in the London Evening Standard claims that Apple has made an $8 billion offer to acquire ARM Holdings. For those few Slashdotters who don't already know, ARM makes the processor chips that power Apple's iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. However, ARM processors are also used by other manufacturers, including Palm and, perhaps most significantly, companies building Android phones. This explains why Apple might be willing to spend so much on the deal — almost 20% of its cash reserves. Being able to control who gets to use the processors (and, more importantly, who doesn't) would give Apple a huge advantage over its competitors."
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Apple To Buy ARM?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:26AM (#31938174)

    You do know the company was jointly founded by Apple, Acorn and VLSI in the first place?

  • by magarity (164372) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:37AM (#31938366)

    Yes, this bit in the summary: Being able to control who gets to use the processors (and, more importantly, who doesn't) Is pure fearmongering. Artificially restricting sales to a select group is completely against the Clayton Act in the US and while I don't know the name in the EU, they have similar laws.

  • Chip purchases (Score:2, Informative)

    by lec8rje (1078775) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:39AM (#31938390)

    Ars has a couple of articles that may be of interest. Firstly concerning Google chrome
    http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2010/04/chromeos-kernel-source-code-hints-at-arm-tegra-2-hardware.ars [arstechnica.com]
    and later there was this
    http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2010/04/google-buys-secret-chip-startup.ars [arstechnica.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:42AM (#31938420)

    ARM was founded by Apple and Acorn (of BBC Micro fame). During the 90s when Apple was in danger of going bust it sold off its stake in ARM. Now that Apple has a few quid in the bank, it wants ARM back. Assuming the rumours are true. Anyway, it's not so strange.

  • Re:Be very afraid. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:51AM (#31938538)

    You mean the OMAP processors that have an ARM core?

  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@NosPaM.cornell.edu> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:53AM (#31938568) Homepage

    Slight distinction here:

    The OMAP core is ARM-based and licensed from ARM, but the chip itself is designed by TI (and I think manufactured by them too)
    The A4 core is ARM-based and licensed from ARM, designed by Apple (one of the ex-PASemi teams), and manufactured by Samsung

  • Re:Be very afraid. (Score:2, Informative)

    by dmesg0 (1342071) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:55AM (#31938622)
    Intel is no longer ARM's licensee, they sold their ARM-based CPUs to Marvell a few years back. A lot of other companies are: Samsung, Qualcomm, TI, Broadcom, Marvell, NXP, ST, Apple and many many others.
  • by teh31337one (1590023) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:56AM (#31938644)

    How is this an antitrust goldmine? Apple doesn't sell the most phones and it doesn't sell the most dollars from phone sales. Your comment makes no sense.

    Almost all smartphones use ARM processors. Nexus one, HTC desire, HTC incredible, Sony Ericson Xperia x10, iPhone, iPad etc, the list goes on. Even Nintendo DS and Nvidia's Tegra chip uses ARM processors. If Apple bought ARM, they'd have control over prices and royalties.

  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:56AM (#31938648)

    Except that unfortunately Apple doesn't have the market share necessary for anti trust to kick in. A court would have do declare them a monopoly for this to happen a la Microsoft. And they could do a lot of damage before this becomes possible.

  • by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @09:57AM (#31938668)

    The SEC review process exists so that new monopolies aren't created. The anti-trust statutes deal with any monopolies who act in an anti-competitive manner regardless of whether the monopoly was formed through acquisition or organic growth. This looks to me like vertical integration, which is an anti-competitive practice. Incidentally, it's not illegal to operate a monopoly, it's only illegal for a monopoly to engage in anti-competitive practices.

    (of course IANAL)

  • Re:Ahem (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tarsir (1175373) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:18AM (#31939044)
    No. You're thinking that 'it' is a noun, so its possessive form should act like the possessive form of other nouns:
    cat / cat's
    Steve / Steve's

    But 'it' isn't a noun, it's a pronoun, so its possessive form acts like those of other pronouns:
    he / his
    she / hers
    my / mine

    The pattern I'm trying to illustrate is that for nouns the possessive form is a morphological variant of the base word, whereas for pronouns there is a distinct word, the possessive pronoun, corresponding to each 'base' pronoun. That being said, I make the its/it's mistake all the time, because the two constructs are unfortunately similar.... And I'm sure I've made it at least once in this post.
  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:44AM (#31939434)

    They are not having my shares. I have had them since Acorn put ARM Holdings public, and I have A LOT of these shares.

    Unless "a lot" is 51%, you may not have a choice.

  • Re:Only 8? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrdoogee (1179081) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:45AM (#31939444)

    According to Wikipedia, he resigned from Apple's board in August of last year due to avoid a conflict of interest between Apple and Google.

  • by Sepodati (746220) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:50AM (#31939528) Homepage

    Vertical integration is not illegal. Using vertical integration to eliminate or frustrate competition is illegal, though.

    Hopefully that's what you were saying, too, and this just further clarifies. ;)

    John

  • Re:Nice Qoute (Score:3, Informative)

    by e2d2 (115622) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:53AM (#31939594)

    Uhm, mods. I was the OP. How can I troll myself? lols. I was trying to correct a typo.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @10:58AM (#31939670) Journal

    Some of the phones use Qualcomm's Snapdragon which is not ARM based.

    Yes it is. Qualcomm buy the most expensive ARM license, which gets you all of the sources for the design and the ability to change anything. The Snapdragon is a modified Cortex A8 (reworked FPU pipeline and a few other changes). It uses the ARM instruction set and is based on a design licensed from ARM.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:05AM (#31939816)

    This is correct, it is licensed from ARM, but is not a bog standard arm implementation.

    For instance, snapdragon implemented multi-core functionality, standard ARM chips only support multi-core for Cortex A9 processors.

  • Re:Be very afraid. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:07AM (#31939832) Homepage
    Well, lira does mean pound in Italian.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:08AM (#31939838) Journal
    Umm... ARM would beg to differ. [arm.com]

    It may be less similar to ARM Cortex reference designs than some of its competitors; but it is definitely ARM based.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:38AM (#31940292) Journal

    For instance, snapdragon implemented multi-core functionality, standard ARM chips only support multi-core for Cortex A9 processors.

    Not quite true. The Cortex A8 does not support multicore, but the ARM11 MPCore did. The A8 didn't because hardly anyone licensed the MPCore version of the ARM11. The A9 does because ARM became concerned about Intel nudging down towards their market and decided to try expanding upwards.

  • by Ion Berkley (35404) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:49AM (#31940464)

    Its a quite accurate statement to say Apple is a founder. ARM originally stood for "Acorn RISC machine" and was developed internally at Acorn. When ARM was incorporated as an independent entity it was done so with Acorn and Apple as 40% owners and VLSI technology (at that time the sole manufacturer) as a 20% owner. At that time the name was changes to "Advanced RISC Machines". Apple had more than Newton in the big picture at that time including laser printers. The ARM610 was indeed developed specifically for the Newton, with a special MMU by ARM as one of its earliest projects. ARM cpu's (in many case multiple ones) are in every cellular handset I'm aware of in the last decade not just smartphones. ARM cpu's are being used by most of the next wave of startup companies in low power server design..look at Smoothstone for an example. And of course they are making serious inroads in Netbook design, both NVIDIA's Tegra and Qualcomm's Snapdragon are giving Intel plenty sleepless nights right now. The last ARM design I did put an ARM7n in every electricity meter...in other words our entire tech world is already built around this architecture.

    The royalties on the older designs are tiny and not going to be affected by an acquisition, don't expect any significant cost changes to be noticeable at retail even if it were possible to renegotiate the royalty schedules. After some stagnation in the last decade where ARM struggled to break out of the the low cost embedded space the company is suddenly looking strong again and it could be quite possible that Apple wants to go this way as an insurance policy, because they fear other big stalkers might acquire a company they are increasingly strategically reliant on.

  • Re:Please don't... (Score:3, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @11:52AM (#31940526)

    Apple never even started upstreaming changes to WebKit. They simply forked it from khtml, and all backporting to khtml has been done by the khtml developers themselves. Or do you seriously think that not breaking the LGPL license is a grand contribution to open source software? Keeping CUPS open is more than keeping it legally compatible with the GPL openprinting drivers?

    I wouldn't say all. While there was a time where khtml developers had issues with the backports, it appears that Apple developers have helped them more recently. Also did you forget the whole part where Apple open sourced WebKit. The khtml parts are still under a LGPL license while the newer Apple parts are under a BSD license. The last time I checked, the BSD license is far more permissive than a GPL license.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:13PM (#31940858) Homepage

    Hard disk controllers, DSL "modems", build in monitor controls, mouse, keyboard, optical drives.

    Sure, not all of them might have ARM in your case, but considering that vast majority of PCs has 1 on 2 x86 cores, greater number of ARM ones is easy.

  • by l3prador (700532) <wkankla@gmaTOKYOil.com minus city> on Thursday April 22, 2010 @12:24PM (#31941056) Homepage
    Amazon MP3 [wikipedia.org] has over 11 million songs.
  • Re:Please don't... (Score:4, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:12PM (#31941714)

    Yes, Apple can certainly release a closed-source WebKit. Under the GPL, they are obligated to release any khtml modifications under a GPL license. They are under no obligations to release their code that are not part of khtml under any license. And they did so until 2005. [wikipedia.org] Up until that point, only WebCore and JavaScriptCore were available as open source. That's when they released all of WebKit.

    In addition to WebKit, Apple has released Darwin OS under a BSD style license. OS X is Darwin + Aqua UI + Apple libraries. Aqua and their libraries are still proprietary but anyone can get Darwin. I would consider releasing open sourcing an OS to be open source friendly.

  • by Sandbags (964742) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @01:28PM (#31942002) Journal

    Most currently marketed phones use ARM, perhaps. This is FAR from a monopoly on production however. In fact, if it was, ARM would already likely be under investigation if there was any fishy stuff since Apple is so small comparatively.

    So, here's the current line-up:
    - ARM (11, Cortex A8, ARMv7, etc)
    - nVidia (tegra, Tegra 2, which has existing license on the ARM core architecture set that can not be taken away by a merger with Apple).
    - Marvell XScale (also ARM based, but licenses only instructions, not the core architecture).
    - Qualcomm Scorpion (an ARM clone, also licensed, combined with ATI graphics
    - Intel Atom
    - Moorestown MeeGo.
    - Samsung. yet another licenses ARM core design, but using alternative architecture.
    So, not exactly a monopoly (not even a duopoly) but, there's more...

    Don't think for a second ATI is not designing their own. Rumor has it Big Blue is also...

    Then, there's other issues, most notably FRAND. ARM is a reference architecture, and is already open licensed. That license must be offered to ALL comers provided fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory pricing, or Apple would be in a world of shit.

    Then, there's the idea that it is COMPLETELY LEGAL to be a monopoly! It is only illegal to ABUSE monopoly position to unfairly stifle competition or emergent alternatives. Since they're already covered by FRAND, it's pretty hard for Apple to do anything aggressive that way.

  • by SEE (7681) on Thursday April 22, 2010 @05:49PM (#31946374) Homepage

    There are three ways to license ARM IP:

    Perpetual (Implementation) License
    The perpetual license offers an ARM Partner the necessary rights to perpetually design and manufacture ARM technology-based products.

    Term License
    This license is suitable for a Partner who wishes to design a number of ARM technology-based products within a specified time-frame (usually three years). The manufacturing rights are perpetual.

    Per Use License
    The Per Use license is available on selected ARM IP and gives an ARM Partner the right to design a single ARM technology-based product within a specified time-frame (usually three years). The manufacturing rights are perpetual.

    Notice that all three allow perpetual manufacture. Further, there are plenty of companies with the perpetual (implementation) license. So there is no way in the short or medium term an Apple takeover could seriously threaten current device-makers. In the long term, maybe the ARM available to people other than Apple would stagnate, but the long term is plenty of time to switch to, say, a new mobile device-optimized version of the current embedded PowerPC chips.

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