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Why it matters: This week, The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued to block Nvidia's $40 billion acquisition of Arm. The FTC says the deal would give Nvidia too much leverage over companies that rely on Arm for their technology, including Nvidia's rivals. The merger is already facing an EU antitrust investigation.
The FTC announced the suit on Thursday, citing concerns about innovation and competition as a primary reason. The Commission is worried Nvidia's control could distort Arm's incentives to its licensees and stifle innovation, specifically in areas like driver assistance systems, data center technology, and cloud computing processors. Arm licenses its chip designs to tech companies that use them for the technology in devices like smartphones, tablets, and automotive systems. They include companies like Samsung and Apple.
Another potential issue is that licensees share critical information about their products with Arm, which could flow up to Nvidia were it to acquire Arm. Aside from affecting competition and innovation, it could also damage other companies' trust in Arm's neutrality when sharing information on chip designs.
The FTC voted unanimously to go forward with the suit, with the administrative trial set for August 9, 2022. It is working closely with other competition agencies in the United Kingdom (where Arm is based), Japan (where the company that currently owns Arm is based), South Korea, and the European Union.
The EU is already investigating the deal. Nvidia indicated that it would make concessions to ensure competition if the Arm merger goes through.