High hanging fruit

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Designing products to a low price point is perhaps the most difficult of all.

I don't mean to diminish the challenge of setting the performance bar height to dizzying levels; we spend much of our careers learning how. But when your performance goals are uncompromising and your budget is limited, the task is often daunting.

Such is the case with our latest skunkworks project, code named Stellar.

Stellar has quite a number of projects with similar goals in mind: affordable high-end performance.

Of interest over the next few days is power amplification.

I had mentioned in yesterday's post that amplifiers come in classes designated by the first few letters in the alphabet. Those letters have no particular relevance. Engineers could just have easily titled amplifier classes as 1,2,3 or x,y,z. The point is, each classification of amplifier describes something about the means by which it operates, as opposed to the actual topologies employed to get there. For example, class A.

Class A refers to an amplification stage that does its work in the voltage domain without affecting it's normally related sibling, current. Signals go up and down without drawing more or less current. That's a pretty broad definition of a much heralded class of device. How that is accomplished is anyone's option, as long as the results somewhat match the description.

There's folly classifying technology. Names help us place concepts in neat little packages so we can prejudice our opinions—the opposite of approaching new creations with open minds.

At the market's dairy case this morning I observed that yogurt made with skim milk is called "low fat" while yogurt made from whole milk is not called "high fat". Both descriptions are accurate; the first is appealing, the second a turn off. By changing the classification of the one, we're now comfortable buying either. Few of us hesitate to purchase low fat yogurt, or whole milk yogurt, because each name now reflects an acceptable concept that fits our prejudice.

No one likes buying "High Fat" yogurt, but "Whole Milk" yogurt is fine.

Tomorrow, the challenges of getting lots of watts for little money.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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