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How system disaggregation would reorganize IT, and how Arm may benefit

The phrase system disaggregation or server disaggregation refers to a design pattern for both manufacturing and deployment of a computing system whose component parts are constructed as individual units, and connected using network fabric instead of a system bus. Today, a computer’s motherboard incorporates a central processor, main memory, a chipset that manages the motherboard’s internal functions, interfaces to the other external components a computer may use (e.g., display, storage, networking), and a bus that acts as a circuit tying them all together.

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Segment of “Broadway Boogie-Woogie” by Piet Mondrian, in the public domain.

A future computer might be built very differently. So long as network fabric (short-distance, high-speed interconnections over high-grade cables such as fiber) are at least as fast, if not faster, than a bus, then the components that were once rooted to a motherboard may become more loosely coupled — perhaps manufactured separately. In such a market,

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