Arm China appears to be fully independent of Arm
A recent Semianalysis article by Dylan Patel goes further claiming Arm China is now an independent company from Arm . [This is refuted – see below. –JR] 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 49% of a company, except for some expensive and time-consuming options.
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 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.
However, in ARM Refutes Accusations of IP Theft by Its ARM China Subsidiary we get the following correction from ExtremeTech:
Not everything in the original article [their version of the above report-JR] was incorrect. ARM is currently in a legal fight with ARM China and Allen Wu. Wu was voted out for reportedly using ARM China's resources to procure orders for his own company. The various allegations that Wu has hired security guards, fired a number of employees, and still holds the seal of the company have been reported on by multiple publications. There is an ongoing dispute between ARM and ARM China.
But the accusations that ARM China had stolen ARM IP and was relaunching it under its own banner? Those don't appear to be true. First, here's a formal statement, as provided to us by an ARM representative:
Arm has seen strong growth in our business as our global partners shipped more than 25 billion Arm-based chips in 2020. Of those 25 billion chips, more than 3 billion were shipped by our partners based in China.
Arm continues to have a successful working relationship with the Arm China team in support of this growth, and both the structure and ownership of the JV remains unchanged since its inception in 2018.
[…] The story ExtremeTech originally linked was based on accurate reporting but was not, itself, particularly accurate. ET regrets the error.