SAN FRANCISCO — Nvidia stated on Sunday that it will purchase the British chip designer Arm from SoftBank in deal value about $40 billion, a transfer that might reshape the battle over expertise that powers smartphones and information facilities.
Nvidia, finest recognized for supplying chips that render pictures in video video games, stated it will pay SoftBank a mix of money and shares within the transaction. Nvidia’s market capitalization has skyrocketed to over $300 billion these days, partly owing to latest success in synthetic intelligence functions and pandemic-fueled progress in chips used for PC gaming.
If accomplished, the transaction would immediately remodel Nvidia into one of the crucial influential gamers in smartphone expertise, a market that had beforehand eluded it. Arm, which licenses designs that different firms flip into chips, has lengthy outlined the computing expertise present in most cell gadgets. And Arm designs are beginning to play a much bigger position in cloud information facilities.
But the deal is prone to immediate shut scrutiny by antitrust authorities around the globe. Influential Arm clients doubtlessly affected by the transaction embody Apple, Samsung Electronics, Amazon.com, Qualcomm and Huawei.
Arm, which was acquired by SoftBank in 2016, is widely perceived as an independent entity that gives equal treatment to all licensees. Industry executives and analysts have pointed to potential conflicts if a company received technical assistance from an Nvidia-owned Arm that could give its own chip business unfair advantages over other licensees.
Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s chief executive, pledged to keep operating Arm as it has been. “Arm’s business model is brilliant,” he wrote in a letter to Nvidia employees on Sunday. “We will maintain its open-licensing model and customer neutrality, serving customers in any industry, across the world.”
Nvidia also said it would keep operating Arm from Cambridge, England, and honor commitments SoftBank made to keep investing in Britain.
Under the terms of the transaction — approved by the boards of Nvidia, SoftBank and Arm — Nvidia will pay SoftBank $21.5 billion in stock and $12 billion in cash, which includes $2 billion payable at signing. SoftBank may also receive up to $5 billion in cash or common stock if Arm meets certain financial targets. Nvidia will issue $1.5 billion in equity to Arm employees.
For SoftBank, the deal represents a respectable exit from a $32 billion acquisition that had not produced the benefits expected by its chief, Masayoshi Son. Arm has pushed into many kinds of internet-connected devices, as expected, but profits have been squeezed by spending on hiring and other factors.
“SoftBank is excited to invest in Arm’s long-term success as a major shareholder in Nvidia,” Mr. Son said in a statement.
For Nvidia, the transaction elevates a company that for decades labored in the shadows of giants like Intel in setting key technical directions for Silicon Valley.
Mr. Huang was early to recognize that chores such as computer graphics weren’t handled well by the general-purpose processors of the kind popularized by Intel. Nvidia built a business on adding specialized accelerator chips, mainly through add-in circuit boards plugged into PCs.
Mr. Huang later bet shrewdly on modifying its chips and developing software to enable scientific and later artificial-intelligence applications. In another aggressive move, Mr. Huang opted to pay $7 billion for Mellanox, an Israeli maker of networking chips, in a deal that closed in April.
He told analysts in August that the Mellanox deal was essential because cloud services are increasingly not being run on a single server. Instead, portions of applications are being distributed among various chips and systems in a data center, requiring more and more communications between the machines, he said.
So Nvidia has a strong interest in controlling networking technology and other key components in the data center — and that strategy, analysts and industry executives said, extends to controlling general-purpose computing technology like Arm’s, which would allow Nvidia to challenge Intel technology at the heart of most servers.
“The computing unit is an entire data center now,” Mr. Huang said on the conference call last month. “We recognized that, as a computing company, we have to be a data center-scale company.”
Mr. Huang on Sunday said the deal would create the “world’s premier computing company for the age of A.I.,” with Nvidia’s technology helping to “turbocharge” Arm’s research and development.
Nvidia said it expected the transaction to close in about 18 months, assuming regulatory approval in the United States, Britain, the European Union and China.