The Hustle

How Nvidia overtook Intel

Nvidia’s deal to acquire chip designer ARM for $40B would solidify the company’s position as America’s top chip maker.


September 14, 2020

In early July, Nvidia became America’s #1 chipmaker by market cap, surpassing its much older rival, Intel, for the first time.

Today, Nvidia is worth $300B while Intel is worth $210B. And with reports that Nvidia is set to acquire UK-based chip designer ARM from Softbank for $40B, that gap might grow even bigger.

Nvidia built its advantage by riding the right trends

Founded in 1993, the Santa Clara-based firm has seen its value increase ~22x in the past 5 years. This is largely thanks to several major  developments:

Along with Microsoft, Intel was synonymous with the PC 

Founded in 1968, Intel came to dominate the PC market in the 1990s and early 2000s.

However, the success of Intel’s PC business hamstrung efforts to effectively compete in the lower margin (but much faster growing) smartphone chip market. With PCs on the decline, Intel’s growth has become reliant on high-end data centers (which Nvidia is increasingly encroaching on).

Two further blows hit in 2020:

  1. Intel’s next gen of chips has encountered major delays
  2. Apple replaced Intel chips with ARM for its new Macbook lines

Why Nvidia’s ARM deal could be huge  

ARM’s energy-efficient designs have been used to create 160B chips — and buying the firm would boost Nvidia’s position in smartphones, tablets and internet-of-things (IOT) hardware.

However, the Wall Street Journal notes some potential deal roadblocks:

We have a more pressing question. If the deal happens, which portmanteau is better: NvARM or Armidia?

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