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A good way to visualize what modular is, is for me to explain what it isn't. And then we can see, okay?What it isn't is an interdependent product. So in the early years of computers, you could not design the operating system without designing the logic. And you couldn't design the logic circuit unless you designed the memory system. And you couldn't design that unless you designed the application software. And you couldn't design the application software unless you designed the operating system. They were all interdependent. Everything depended upon everything else. And you generally have those kinds of architectures, which in the popular press are called proprietary, when the performance of the product is not yet good enough. And so the interdependence exists by the engineers. Every generation just tried to knit the pieces of the system together even more efficiently, to wring even more performance out of the technology that's available.If you try to create, what I call, a modular architecture... That is: Let's divide the pieces into neat little components and define the standards by which the components fit together. That's modular.And modularity takes many degrees of freedom away from the engineers. And when the product doesn't perform well enough yet to take degrees of freedom away from them, forces them to back off of the frontier of what's technologically possible. So there's an era in every company's history when you cannot have standards in modular architecture, because the product isn't yet good enough. But when it becomes good enough, then standardization of the architecture, creating industry standard and open interfaces, brings many more advantages. You can mix and match and plug and play. You can upgrade one element of the system without redesigning everything. Those advantages of modularity ultimately overtake an industry, leaving the companies with proprietary architectures to become a kind of high-end niche players.

Added on 02 May 2017

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