Imagination is a wonderful thing – creative inspiration leads us to generate new ideas devoid of real world failings. One could conceive of a new engine for cars that had minimal noxious emissions. Naturally it would run for hundreds of miles on miserly amounts of fuel.
In another dimension we know what gems are. The sparkle of diamond draws an innate interest from within us. In reality a gem stone is simply a piece of rock whose qualities attract our sensibilities. Cultural evolution and market forces have given these rocks a prized value with the consequence that we use them as signs of commitment or wealth.
Whether we look at cars or jewellery there is often a prime focus for our attention. A car is more than just an engine – a diamond ring is as much about the ring as it is about the diamond.
Electronic products are often quoted as having the latest twin zing processor or 24 bit “super-giga-whatever” device. These parts may be processors or converters or some other focal point of the whole circuit. In truth, neither the engine, nor the gemstone nor the electronic device creates the right product without considering the entire situation.
The marketing of PCs is a prime example when talking about the main processor. A processor is a number crunching device that can carry out many millions of instructions per second. One of the characteristics sounds of a PC is the whirring of the fans – these are provided to help keep the processor cool. Without them the processor would overheat and destroy itself. Processors now have to monitor their temperature and if it rises too far they have to literally slow down.
Even at this early stage we have a clear indication that the latest greatest processor may not give of its best without adequate cooling. At a more electronic level, the results from the processor number crunching have to be passed on. This means sending the information along traces of the circuit board to the next chip(s). Sending information takes time. The time may not be very long but when you consider millions of operations per second, then the smallest time matters.
With just two simplified parameters it is possible to see that electronics cannot be defined simply by the “focal” part. The overall design of the product and circuit requires all parameters to be considered if the full benefits of the core are to be obtained. The overall speed of the computer in our example is affected by the cooling system and the arrangements for exchanging information.
Hopefully, it becomes clear that the precise deployment of a key part in a design is as important as choosing the right part. Correct implementation often costs little in terms of product cost but offers the ability to achieve full potential from a well considered design.
The diamond, in tension setting, is obviously a focal point contrasted against the simpler form of the ring itself. Without the supporting structure the focus would be lost, as is the case with strategic parts of an electronic circuit.