Arm exec says 'firewalls' will protect customer info after Nvidia deal

By Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) - If Nvidia Corp <NVDA.O> purchases Arm Ltd from SoftBank Group Corp <9984.T>, Arm will retain "firewalls" to ensure that the data center chip company does not access sensitive information from Arm customers accesses or gains early access to Arm's products, a senior Arm manager told Reuters on Tuesday.
The $ 40 billion deal announced last month would reshape the global semiconductor sector as Arm has long acted as a neutral player and Apple Inc. <AAPL.O>, Qualcomm Inc. <QCOM.O> and many other companies, Buy the chips, intellectual property made available to most smartphones in the world and many other types of chips.
Nvidia has ousted Intel Corp <INTC.O> as the largest US chip company by market capitalization due to the strength of its artificial intelligence data center chips. Arm's business model of openly licensing the company's technology across the chip industry will be maintained.
However, because chips take years to go from an idea to silicon, Arm's customers often reveal information about future plans during licensing discussions with Arm. Arm customers also share sales forecasts and numbers to calculate license fees.
"We will maintain the firewalls between the two companies in terms of confidentiality and not allow early access to Nvidia," Rene Haas, president of Arm's IP Products Group, told Reuters in an interview.
Haas said, however, that some information has yet to be shared with Nvidia, such as when large customers announced plans to switch to RISC-V, an open source competitor of Arm, in order to create the conditions for a decline in sales, which in turn will Nvidia's financial health could impact results. Haas said the two companies are discussing "how access to this information can be minimized".
The deal is widely expected to lead to scrutiny among Nvidia competitors using Arm technology such as Intel and Qualcomm Inc <QCOM.O>.
"We will evaluate this every step of the way, as with any combination in the industry, to ensure that Intel and the industry have access to critical technologies on a fair and equal footing," said Bob Swan, chief executive of Intel Reuters, in an interview last week.
In a statement on Wednesday, Nvidia said it would "ensure that Arm's customers' sensitive information is fully protected, as it is today".

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Greg Mitchell and David Gregorio)

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