In Whitehall, Dominic Cummings is likely chewing on a chunk of sofa. The cause of this rage? The US chip company Nvidia’s proposed purchase of the UK chip designer Arm Holdings from its previous owner, Softbank, for the sum of $40 billion, the biggest ever semi-conductor business deal.
If you own a mobile phone the odds are it runs on a chip with a central processing unit (CPU) designed by Arm. Arm’s share of the mobile phone microprocessor market is an astonishing 95%. In 2018, it claimed to provide 90% of controllers in the “internet of things” that includes everything from smart speakers to FitBits. Apple is starting to adopt Arm designs for its new range of laptops.
As a recently leaked email revealed, Cummings is absolutely determined that the UK should nurture its own $1 trillion tech company for reasons tied as much to his futurist geopolitical visions as economics. With DeepMind acquired by Google back in 2014 – something which apparently haunts the dreams of Cummings and his close associates – the UK’s best bet to fulfil this dream now seems to be holding onto Arm.