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Business News/ Companies / News/  SoftBank climbs 1.89% on reports of subsidiary Arm Holdings' plan for AI-powered chips by 2025

SoftBank climbs 1.89% on reports of subsidiary Arm Holdings' plan for AI-powered chips by 2025

SoftBank Group's stock rose ahead of its earnings report, fueled by reports of Arm Holdings developing AI-powered chips for a 2025 launch.

A screen displays the logo of Softbank's Arm, chip design firm, during the company’s IPO at Nasdaq Market site in New York last year (Reuters / Brendan McDermid)Premium
A screen displays the logo of Softbank's Arm, chip design firm, during the company’s IPO at Nasdaq Market site in New York last year (Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

SoftBank Group rose 1.89 percent at 8,026 yen ahead of its earnings report due after the closing bell, AFP reported. The stock moved after reports that its chips subsidiary Arm Holdings is gearing up to launch artificial intelligence powered chips by 2025.

As per a report by Nikkei Asia, UK-based Arm is developing AI-powered chips which it is targetting a 2025 launch, Reuters said. The company is poised to establish a dedicated division for the development of AI chips and aims to unveil its initial products by 2025, it added.

Prototype Development and Mass Production Plans

Arm Holdings plans to commence the development process promptly, with aspirations to have a prototype ready by spring 2025, as per the report. Mass production of these AI chips is slated to begin in the autumn of the same year, with manufacturing duties entrusted to contract manufacturers.

Initial development costs, estimated to reach hundreds of billions of yen, will be primarily covered by Arm Holdings. SoftBank Group is expected to contribute to the funding as well, as per the report.

The Nikkei report further suggests that once the mass-production infrastructure is established, there are prospects for the AI chip business to be spun off and placed under the umbrella of SoftBank Group. Negotiations are reportedly underway with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC) and other potential manufacturing partners to secure production capacity.

Arm Holdings, SoftBank Group, and TSMC did not respond to queries, the report said. Livemint could not independently verify the report.

SoftBank Quarterly Results

SoftBank on May 13 announced its second consecutive quarter of profitability, due to a surge in AI investments that have boosted assets such as Arm Holdings Plc, Bloomberg reported.

The Tokyo-based conglomerate reported a net income of ¥231.1 billion ($1.5 billion), a significant improvement compared to a net loss of ¥57.6 billion in the same quarter last year. Analysts had predicted a net income of ¥176.3 billion for the period. However, the Vision Fund reported a loss of ¥96.7 billion, falling short of the estimated profit of ¥185.1 billion.

SoftBank is making strides in its recovery, particularly as CEO Masayoshi Son prepares for substantial investments in the AI and semiconductor sectors, as per Bloomberg. This move is part of an effort to expand Arm's capabilities beyond mobile devices.

In recent months, SoftBank has intensified its investments in AI-related hardware, sometimes acquiring controlling interests. The Japanese investment firm is currently in negotiations to purchase British semiconductor startup Graphcore, as per Bloomberg.

Additionally, SoftBank led a $1.05 billion funding round for UK self-driving startup Wayve Technologies earlier this month, collaborating with Nvidia and existing investor Microsoft Corp.

Expansion and Market Performance

Arm Holdings, known for licensing its chip designs and generating revenue through royalties, has been diversifying its portfolio by entering the data-centre market. The surge in demand for AI computing has been a key driver behind this expansion, as per the report.

The anticipation surrounding Arm's potential in the AI computing domain has significantly boosted its share price since its initial public offering last September. The company's market value now surpasses $100 billion.

SoftBank Group was expected to report a downturn in its financial performance when it releases its earnings report on Monday. Investors are keenly awaiting insights into the company's new growth investments. 

(With inputs from Reuters, AFP and Bloomberg)

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Published: 13 May 2024, 10:26 AM IST
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