Arm China appears to be fully independent of Arm

Arm China (安谋科技) has apparently split from Arm Holdings in an interesting saga. Last year we noted Allwinner R329 processor featured Arm China AIPU with 256 MOPS. But this AI accelerator was nowhere to be found on the official Arm website, which seemed odd.

But it appears there have been conflicts with and within Arm China for a while. Allen Wu, who was President of ARM Greater China, Member of the Executive Committee between 2014 and 2018, and has been Chairman and CEO, Arm Technology (China) since April 2018, has set up an investment fund called Alphatecture Hong Kong Ltd in 2019 in order invest in Bestechnic, an ARM licensee and developer of audio chips, reaping hundreds of dollars in profit for himself.

Arm Technology (China)’s board of directors was not impressed and voted 7 to 1 on June 4, 2020 to dismiss him, but Allen refused to leave since he still holds the company’s seal, and he remains the legal representative of the company according to the Chinese law. There’s a legal process to retrieve the company’s seal, but it can take years.

A recent Semianalysis article by Dylan Patel goes further claiming Arm China is now an independent company from Arm. It all started when SoftBank formed a joint venture where Arm Limited and the SoftBank subsidiary sold a 51% stake of the company to a consortium of Chinese investors with the venture having the exclusive right to distribute Arm’s IP within China. They lost control of the company that way, but it was probably due to regulations as this type of law is common in Asia, and for instance, CNX Software Limited is a Hong Kong company instead of a Thai company, as foreigners can own up to 49% of a company, except for some expensive and time-consuming options.

Back to Arm China. The joint venture recently gave a presentation to the where they had plans to rebrand, develop their own IP, and operate independently from Arm. This is easy to see why once we learn the rest of the story… With the “power of the seal”, Allen Wu ousted executives that were loyal to Arm and kept them out of the building with hired security. Arm stopped providing IP to Arm China, and Cortex-A77 core is the latest Arm IP available to Arm China. Neoverse, Armv9, Cortex-A78, and all other recent IP have not been shared with the Chinese entity.

Arm China independent designs
Source: Semianalysis

Arm China also unveiled the XPU family with IP blocks including NPU AI accelerators, secure processing units (SPU), image signal processor (ISP), and video processing units (VPU), but no CPU cores that I could see. It’s going to be interesting to see how Chinese vendors like Allwinner or Rockchip will be able to use newer technology from Arm. The companies do not typically rely on high-end (and expensive) cores, but the Arm Cortex-A510 Armv9 core would certainly have to be part of their roadmap for the next few years. Can Arm China block those designs in China, or on the reverse, would Arm decide to block designs based on Arm China IP stealing their IP to enter markets outside of China. It just feels like a lose-lose situation at this point.

Thanks to TLS and Zoobab for the tip.

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75 Comments
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Jack
Jack
1 month ago

What a big surprise ! (sarcasm)

wboz88
wboz88
1 month ago

Ha. Yup.

Alsey Coleman Miller
Alsey Coleman Miller
1 month ago

Wow, this globalism is really working out.

minardi
minardi
1 month ago

China (esp. its party) can actually claim he have independently developed the ARM-variants using self-owned IPs now, what a good move! (sarcasm)

Tsvetan
1 month ago

This story is big red flag for anyone who wants to make joint venture in China.

rm_
1 month ago

red flag <- so a good thing from the Communist party’s view 🙂

1 month ago

yes, 51% stake owned by Chinese, that is how majority works….
it is purely capitalism how it works ….
Steven Jobs got kicked out from Apple after he sold the majority stock

Galen
Galen
1 month ago

In the eyes of everyone that’s not blinded by nationalism this is theft.

jay
jay
1 month ago

Of old IP, and name only, but new ARM IP is blocked. It appears the two companies diverge but have to see how it develops. Given non-access to advanced nodes idk how useful ARM China is.

Mtk
Mtk
1 month ago

Chinese crooks and criminals … not surprised at all. Lately even some of the products purchased via Aliexpress. do not arrive and Aliexpress refunds less amounts, in spite of EU laws …

Do not purchase anything from China #1 world’s polluter and C02 emitter !

Pavel
Pavel
1 month ago

Unfortunately, I am not that rich to buy the same things in EU several times more expensive.
For a hobby, Aliexpress is beyond competition. Unfortunately, recently the hobby has become more expensive by another 19% of VAT.

willy
willy
1 month ago

The real problem is not that it’s several times more expensive, but that it comes from the exact same place and that the price difference directly goes into your intermediary’s pocket. This discredits all EU-made products as being suspected of being the exact same, and instantly kills their value for the price, despite sometimes being better.

Jon Smirl
1 month ago

Digikey is largest chip distributor in USA and resells all of the parts at 30-40% mark ups. The owner of Digikey is a billionaire with multiple private jets. I only buy from them when I can’t afford to wait three weeks for package from China.

TonyT
TonyT
1 month ago

Actually Digikey is #5, and there is true value in having a stocking distributor instead of a company that just takes the order and passes them on to the manufacturer – it’s not good to have a $50K machine help up by missing connectors. Of course, Digikey isn’t a good source for high volume production.

David
David
1 month ago

Actually Digi-Key (not Digikey) is the #4 electronic component distributor in North America and #5 in the world.[1] I buy stuff from the likes of Digi-Key and Mouser all the time, I don’t have a choice. Where I live in the U.S. (a major metropolitan area) there are exactly zero (0) electronic parts stores (sad commentary in how low we’ve sunk in terms of our quality of education). Most of the time I can’t wait six to eight weeks for cheap Chinese stuff of questionable quality to arrive (if it ever arrives). Amazon works well sometimes for non-critical components. But… Read more »

Nemanja
Nemanja
1 month ago

#1 polluter and CO2 emitter? On which drugs are you, m8.
Per capita, China is far beyond USA, for example (not including military pollution that US is doing around the world). There are some estimates that, when military pollution is included, that USA is polluting the same as China does (with 4 times larger population).
Logic, seems is not your best friend, ain’t it?

Pheckpul
Pheckpul
1 month ago

I would be interested in these “estimates” you cite vis-a-vis US military CO2 emissions abroad. Sources?

Jon Smirl
1 month ago

He is correct by using “per capita” number, not if you simply look at the entire country. That is because China’s population is four times larger than the USA’s and “per capita’ lets you divide the China pollution numbers by four. I don’t view this as a fair comparison. China has 600-800M people involved in agriculture at a little over the level of subsistence farming. These people don’t generate much pollution. The US does not have the equivalent population, maybe 25M people in agriculture here. So if you compare the industrialized portion of the two country, then China loses badly.… Read more »

Mtk
Mtk
1 month ago

Speaking about drugs, it seems China needs them more – too many people.

Regarding US, about 18% from China export goes to US, which probably accounts to roughly 3% from its CO2 emissions. However if you look at C02 emissions per dollar of GDP, US is doing much better – 0.23 ton/USD vs 0.72 ton/USD – China.

PhilS
PhilS
1 month ago

China is already well know for intellectual property IP theft and for their courts to regularly (although not always) back up the state sponsored policies. Such policies also regulate (or rather not) employment and manufacturing conditions. Hence we in the ‘west’ are able to purchase products much cheaper because of near slave labour and processes devoid of a great deal of red tape regulation. But, the irony is that many a ‘western’ corporation takes advantage of these things and in some cases, still manages to sell products with enormous profit margins and have no desire to care about the conditions… Read more »

Nemanja
Nemanja
1 month ago

Here we are with the IP theft again. USA never stole any tech? They always developed from scratch? Give me a break.
Regarding pollution, compare ShenZhen and Los Angeles pollution in the past year. Of course that you can find cities, in both countries, that are worse than in other. Comparing pollution in China 10 years ago and today – two different things.

PhilS
PhilS
1 month ago

What precisely did the US steal?

wboz88
wboz88
1 month ago

@PhilS, well, I’ll throw in an answer that precisely no one will be happy with, which is “textile weaving machines”, in the ~1791 period. 🙂 This was a massive inversion of English-American competitive advantage over the following 30 years and critical to the development of the early republic. Plus many other technologies in the early American period. Not to say this does not happen today too (the F-35 is based on a failed Soviet jump jet design), but in the past few years, it has been companies in countries that are not the US more interested in getting quickly up… Read more »

Nemanja
Nemanja
1 month ago

Hiro Ishii waves at you.

bernstein
bernstein
1 month ago

Not surprising, selling a 51% stake always results in this. Obviously there may be exceptions…
This will all further the ascent of RISC-V.

jay
jay
1 month ago

Not a bad thing to favor RISC-V, not just by China, but Apple Qualcomm Musk and all those not so hot on Nvidia &/or Softbank

Pete
Pete
1 month ago

As reported by Financial Times back in November, it is holding up the Nvidia deal.

jiyan
jiyan
1 month ago

I would be surprised if this didn’t have a geopolitical aspect. Although they managed to salvage it last time with Huawei by saying it only has UK technology inside, I don’t see how in the future they could not use this excuse with other manufucturers since ARM has a major research facility in the USA. This might have to do with nvidia as well, if this could be indeed a roadblock to the deal. It’s not only the chinese side that could have qualms about the deal, ARM’s co-founder has explicitly stated that he thinks that the sale would be… Read more »

Pheckphul
Pheckphul
1 month ago

SoftBank has 49% of ARM China, but this criminal asshole Allen Wu thinks he can take all the IP assets ARM China has and move them to this new company. Being the corrupt authoritarian country that China is, where the law is entirely what the CCP says it is, ARM and SoftBank are probably entirely screwed. Of course anything using ARM’s IP that isn’t properly licensed won’t be allowed to be imported into any Western country, that still leaves China and the rest of the world as a market. Western corporations need to rethink their bargain with the devil of… Read more »

jiyan
jiyan
1 month ago

The one that broke the established rules of international trade was the US under Trump, and not only that but they forced other countries too, which harmed their own self-interests. Even if it’s not allowed in the West, it would still better than having to forfeit completely a mature ecosyste if the US decides to prohibit the use of relevant technology for every company in China under the flimsiest excuse – and they have already exhibited that they have no qualms doing just that even if it would hurt (some) of their own companies and people. If that were to… Read more »

David Willmore
David Willmore
1 month ago

I can not see how this won’t lead to a ban on any products using this stolen IP. I guess if China wants to limit this to their internal economy, they might manage it, but this is a huge theft of IP and I’m curious how the WTO will deal with it.

geokon
1 month ago

It’s unlikely this is a government scheme to seize IP. As you point out, they don’t really win anything – and the government has been trying to be “pro-IP” for the past few years.. Talk to any foreigner doing any kind of business, big or small, in China and you hear these stories happening all the time. These sloppy legal arrangements with local intermediaries happen semi regularly b/c the legal frameworks are very convoluted. I’ve even had it happen to a friend who ran a small bar. His business partner did some paperwork (again something to do with these stamps)… Read more »

jay
jay
1 month ago

Japan is the same, stamp is god. It hasnt changed in centuries.

back2future
back2future
1 month ago

On the long run, trading is about trust also? Changing rules instantly and often is mostly no good base for trading?
How to judge about intentions before experiencing influences or consequences (Hongkong for reference?)?

David Willmore
David Willmore
1 month ago

Well, things like this make it easy. “Are you dealing with China?” If yes, then assume IP theft will occur as wel as other theft.

back2future
back2future
1 month ago

Experience on (big) business in electronics is limited, but public news differ from these few contacts. (What time frame in history is reference (Hong Kong situation?) from Chinese point of view for now?). You think it’s different cultural habits compared with people from South Korea, ‘on average’ and in terms of business? What company is reference for ‘our’ (northern Africa, northern America, southern America, Australia, Europe, India, Japan, Middle East, Oceania) cultural values for 21. century (e.g. ARM influenced/ruled maybe through Nvidia?)?
Thanks for the warning

1 month ago

Ok, ARM made money from selling 51% of the stake…
Stop complaining

Theguyuk
Theguyuk
1 month ago

Sleeping old man in white house, scares no one and Great Britain is being to humble.

Nvidia could give original aRM, the CPU, NPU and GPU uplift in abilities to make China aRM products seem old and frail.
Remind yourself how Nintendo used Nvidia, to make Switch stand out. Nintendo did not go with other GPU brands.
Also how long term software support for Nvidia Shield continues. Nvidia GPU, taught Nvidia, that software support matters.

Always notice what the right hand is doing as well, do not just have concentration on the left.

Marcin Dąbrowski
1 month ago

There go our hopes of using Allwinner R329 in the west.

Radek
Radek
1 month ago

China take x86 zhaoxin, take arm, take immagination technologie, works on risc v. And only Trump was acting. Wake up wake up stupid….!!!!

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

They took our Jobs! Wake up sheeple (or just go back to sleep). Thank you

back2future
back2future
1 month ago

‘They took our Jobs!’
How did they?

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

“as foreigners can own 49% of a company, except for some expensive and time-consuming options.”

Is this meant to say “can only own up to 49%”?

jay
jay
1 month ago

Americans are supposed to have exclusive treaty with Bangkok unavailable for other nationalities, so 100% ownership, but in practice, Thai are far trickier than Chinese. I’d definitely stick with HKG.

wboz88
wboz88
1 month ago

Don’t expect much in the way of official or court support reversing the IP grab. This is a highly desirable outcome for anyone worried that China was going to be “left out” if they can’t get access to advanced processor designs. It is considered a strategic imperative much in the same way of having access to energy supplies, rare earths, etc (stuff the US, btw, frets about too but seems to take limited steps to actually ensure). Think about how disastrous it was for Huawei when they were told ARM could no longer supply them; or how painful it is… Read more »

Salvador
Salvador
1 month ago

Those are the typical reactions of americans loosing his power.

crashoverride
crashoverride
1 month ago

ARM is a Japanese company with British headquarters. Since NVIDIA has not yet acquired ARM, its not an American loss.

Salvador
Salvador
1 month ago

Nah, I mean American is loosing the economic leadership of the world, also EU on extension.

back2future
back2future
1 month ago

Loss of expertise(?) may increase, if fossil resources (oil, natural gas) are provided less for energy supply and transport (because of climate warming reasons)?
GDP on northern America, Asia, Europe seems around equal at (5years known numbers) 19-22 trillion USD each.
(considering these perspective(s) https://www.cnx-software.com/2021/08/31/arm-china-appears-to-be-fully-independent-from-arm/#comment-584643)

back2future
back2future
1 month ago

6-7years: GDP 2021 (estimate)
Asia 36 Trillion (兆) USD, North America 26 Trillion USD, Europe 23 Trillion USD, South America 3 Trillion USD, Africa 2.6 Trillion (=10¹²) USD, Oceania 1.9 Trillion USD

jay
jay
1 month ago

people lets not make a mountain of molehill. Its less geopolitics and more about how much consumer & business products will cost. How big the markups?

Salvador
Salvador
1 month ago

If china can make our hw cheaper, the better for me. Free market. Force your citizens to by expensive US hw with moral debates . 51 percent of the company is owned by a chinese guy. And they are on litigation, it’s not just a ccp decision. If china is soooo badly for bussiness.. why they are all those companies there? Free market, the rest its just pointless to discuss.The rest of the world will choose differently. I dont like the cpp neither his ways. But that doesnt have any relation with us losing his power and all those western… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

Western companies engaged with China in pursuit of short term gains. If it was a “free market”, they would not have been forced to create these 49/51 joint ventures and have the rug pulled out from under them.

It sounds like this will lead to greater fragmentation of ARM. Same story with highly customizable RISC-V though.

Salvador
Salvador
1 month ago

Its free market. The wester company ACCEPTED that restriction. Wasn’t forced to go to China.

Marcin Dąbrowski
1 month ago

“Now that is an Avengers level threat.”

David Willmore
David Willmore
1 month ago

Seems like it’s a good time to stop doing business with China entirely. Their manufacturing is inefficient and their civil rights record is horrible. 天安门大屠杀 and so on.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

It’s not so easy, requiring some forward thinking and financial losses. Unless companies just get kicked out like this.

I’m not sure China’s manufacturing is “inefficient”. Environmentally unfriendly maybe.

jay
jay
1 month ago

What is likely is China’s dominance will wane as rivals are given market access, I think Western goal was never to stop China cold, as China remains inexpensive for what is delivered & robust trade as political leverage is desirable. All West is doing in long run, is granting themselves further discounts on low & middle end items, while grabbing exclusivity crown on advanced stuff along with “tag team” like Taiwan, Israel, Korea. Big worry in short run, West could be importing inflation & generalized trade migranes

wboz88
wboz88
1 month ago

@Jean-Luc, I was curious and stumbled across this article where SiFive exec talks through the relationship between SiFive and StarFive https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20210205PD217.html Seems like this is a better way to set up JV … have understanding from beginning that Chinese co can both license existing designs within China and develop their own, but companies are financially independent, both have engineering staff, and to some extent compete on design excellence. That way if companies stay affiliated, great, if not, also fine. … although I do get the sense that StarFive was manufacturer and SiFive needs someone else to make the chips they… Read more »

Occam
Occam
1 month ago

The ChiComs will steal your IP and trade secrets one way or the other.

Colin K
Colin K
1 month ago

I was under the impression China took Japanese IP in regards to the development of it’s high speed rail system. : https://itif.org/publications/2021/04/26/heading-track-impact-chinas-mercantilist-policies-global-high-speed-rail

jiyan
jiyan
1 month ago

How did China force high speed technology transfer? Did they use their gunships to threat Japan, Germany, and France? Not really. Those countries provided access willingly anxious to outbid each other and probably thinking that Chinese would be unable to internalize the technology and build something better. It was their greed combined with arrogance to blame.

Also the latest debacles only prove that they were right to develop homegrown technology instead of relying on imports. I am sure they are now really regretting not making a greater effort in semiconductors.

jiyan
jiyan
1 month ago

Yes I know, I am replying to that link that Colin left above. Technology transfer is something very common, and in those cases there was agreement and willingness. It’s quite a stretch, if not downright dishonest, to call that forced. I think the example you are citing also attests to that fact. By the way it seems that Japanese also knew that when giving access to their high-speed train technology: So why was Japan’s most prized technology leaked?   According to Tsutomu Murasaki, executive director of the Japan Railway System Exporters Association, “If you put high technical ability on display… Read more »

Salvador
Salvador
1 month ago

Westerns love open market, except when they do not win, then they love interventionism. I don’t deny that china have severe market regulations (and those should make china a less efficient economy following liberalism recipes.. and it’s not the case). At the end China is far more competitive and it’s the western countries that say that open market doesn’t work anymore. Many argue that china products cost less bc of the lack of research… china enterprises invest a lot of research and they lead many industries. RISCV will be leaded by china companies, not western ones. As for the human… Read more »

Theguyuk
Theguyuk
1 month ago

Oh, so China does not need western markets, just like Gearbest, did not need those western customers, who expect what they paid for and that it works.

Salvador
Salvador
1 month ago

And? China can sell and buy everywhere… like anyone…

Theguyuk
Theguyuk
1 month ago

Seems it is not all going chinas way “Imagination Technologies has engaged investment bank Lazard to look at options for selling or IPO-ing the company, reports Bloomberg. Imagination’s owners are the Chinese-backed private equity company Canyon Bridge which bought Imagination in 2017 for about $760 million. Imagination’s share price had been slashed in 2017 when Apple, which was providing half its revenues, announced it would be reducing its business with Imagination. Last year, Apple signed a new licensing agreement with Imagination. China Reform Fund Management, the China state-owned asset manager, is the principal investor in Canyon Bridge. Last year a… Read more »

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